Reports of his ill health had sparked outrage and he was eventually arraigned at the Federal High Court 2 in Calabar after 34 days in custody on September 25, 2019 for the pre-trial hearing of his bail application.
The presiding Judge, Justice Simon Amobeda after two more Court dates on September 26th and October 2nd, rejected the motion to admit him to bail on October 4, 2019.
In his ruling, Justice Amobeda had said that Jalingo’s lawyers had failed to provide sufficient evidence about his failing health. He was moved from police detention and remanded in Prison custody where he has been since September 25th.
Justice Amobeda had in his ruling, dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the prosecution to challenge the jurisdiction of the court to hear Mr. Jalingo’s bail application and ordered accelerated hearing for October 16th and 17th.
Mixed reactions have continued to greet Mr. Jalingo’s arrest and incarceration with many pressure groups accusing the Cross River State government for his travails, an allegation, the State has continued to deny.
He had in an article published in July questioned the whereabouts of the 500 million Naira approved and released for the floating off the Cross River Microfinance Bank.
The Police Command in Cross River State had in a letter dated August 14, 2019 titled; “Conspiracy To Cause Breach Of Public Peace” and signed by Mrs. Tami Peterside, a Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department invited Jalingo to report to her on August 19, 2019 at 2:00PM for an interview.
The letter was delivered by the Investigating Police Officer, Mr. Benjamin Ajala, a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
The Nigeria Union of Journalists in Cross River State has reportedly not risen to align with the mounting pressure that what Agba Jalingo is passing through is suppression of media practitioners and journalism practice in the state.
The National leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ in a letter dated September 26th, 2019 with reference number NUJ/NS/10/P/1/VOL .1 wrote directly to Governor Ben Ayade with the heading, “Drop charges against Agba Jalingo”.
The letter signed by the national secretary of NUJ Comrade Shu’aibu Usman Leman read in parts; “Agba Jalingo who is the publisher of Cross River Watch is facing charges of treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State government. These allegations are not only incongruous but portray Nigeria in bad light before the international community.”
“Sir, while we agree with the desire for responsible journalism, yet we disagree with the way and manner your government reacted to the said publication by Agba Jalingo….We are worried that a harmless publication will attract such harsh action”.
“We are afraid that this new security situation increases risks of Journalists’ safety at work. It also means that journalists, their organizations and employers are at risk of being muzzled and restricted. It is instructive to note that Journalism is not a Crime”.
Governor Ayade in a veil reference to Agba Jalingo before his arrest; while delivering his address at the opening of the Green Carnival event on the 30th of July, 2019 said, “In Cross River, a man who is begging and does not get what he wants becomes a journalist and starts blackmailing the State. That is not journalism. Unfortunately, the period of blackmail is over. The period of writing nonsense and earning a living is over. Because no matter what you write, you don’t change the truth.”
But, the Spokesman to Governor Ayade, Mr, Christian Ita maintains that Jalingo’s arrest was in connection with his participation in the #RevolutionNow demonstrations and argues that people point fingers at his principal because it is the easiest thing to do.