The defendant lawyer, Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), Agba Jalingo, the Nigerian journalist standing trial at the Federal High Court in Calabar for charges of treasonable felony and terrorism, has said that the leaked audio statement credited to the presiding judge amounted to extra-judicial declaration.
In a 10-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Olumide-Fusika on November 18, he said that the purport of Justice Simon Amobeda’s leaked audio remark shows that Jalingo’s trial would be compromised.
The lawyer who attached the alleged audio recording of the judge quoted him as saying the life of the journalist is in the hands of the court.
Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, a local publication, was arrested and charged with treason after he had published a story on how Cross River State governor, Professor Benedict Ayade, allegedly approved and diverted N500m meant for Cross River State Microfinance Bank.
He was first arraigned in court in August. When he appeared in court on Tuesday, Amobeda adjourned the trial till Wednesday.
However, he was heard saying critical things about Jalingo and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, his counsel.
In a leaked audio, the judge accused Olumide-Fusika of being too proud, saying he would not be intimidated by the senior advocate.
“I told the young man (Jalingo) yesterday, your life now is in the hands of the court,” the judge said.
Olumide-Fusika quoted Justice Amobeda as saying, “In the three times he appeared before the court, the first time he was to bring down the court, the second time he was gentle, the third time yesterday, he was shouting on top of his voice. I refuse to be intimidated.”
The judge said the trial would go on whether or not the defence counsel chooses to withdraw.
Citing the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, he said, “Late Gani Fawehinmi walked out on the tribunal in Ogoni matter. What happened? The matter went on and Ken Saro-Wiwa was convicted and sentenced to death.”
The judge also said the defence counsel accused him of conniving with the prosecution, adding that recently, he got a letter of threat over the trial.
He said the name and address of the writer was included in the letter.
However, Olumide-Fusika denied shouting in the court, saying none of the independent accounts of my utterances or the tone with which I addressed the Court reported me as “saying “waoh! Waoh! Waoh!””
“There are in existence several independent reports of what transpired, and especially of the words I uttered and the tone with which I uttered them, which was immediately after his lordship had delivered his Ruling refusing the application to modify the secret trial orders to restrict the secret session to the taking of witnesses whose identity were not already explicit on the Proof of Evidence.
While I reserve my view on the rightness or otherwise of his lordship making a case pending before him for trial and determination (indeed, one in which the Defendant faces the jeopardy of a sentence to death, if found guilty) the subject of the type of open discussion, banters, expression of the judge’s views, sentiments and thoughts on how he will likely decide the case and convict and sentence the Defendant to death (like Ken Saro-Wiwa) contained in the alleged audio recording, I say with all emphasis at my disposal that what his lordship represented of me behind my back to his jury of unidentified persons is not correct.
‘’ I further say that all that his lordship represented as happening before him on the three occasions that I had led the defence team, and especially on Tuesday, the 12th day of November, 2019, is inaccurate, if not fictional’’.
Jalingo is standing trial on charges bordering on conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and attempt to topple the government of Cross River State.