Justice Simon Amobeda, the judge presiding over the trial of Agba Jalingo, the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch who was charged with treason, has recused himself from the case, according to a report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting.
Jalingo was arrested and charged with terrorism for publishing a story on how Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, allegedly approved and diverted N500m meant for Cross River State Microfinance Bank, in August.
In an affidavit Jalingo called for the reassignment of his case to another judge outside the Calabar Division who would be less susceptible to local political influence, saying that Justice Amobeda had promised to sentence him to death like Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Following pressure from the media, Justice Amobeda at the Wednesday sitting of the Federal High Court in Calabar, Rivers State capital, bowed to pressure and announced he would be transferring Jalingo’s case file to the division’s administrative judge, Justice Sule Shuaibu.
Amobeda also said the leaked audio tape attached with Jalingo’s case was “false, unfounded and misguided”. He also called them erroneous and “a fiction of the imagination of the deponent.”
He accused the defence of resorting to “cheap media blackmail” and “baseless accusations” despite not having asked for the court’s record of proceedings.