The Cross River State Government has taken over the prosecution of Agba Jalingo, publisher of the News Portal, CrossRiverWatch who is standing trial on terrorism and other related charges in the state.
‘The state’s Attorney General, Tanko Ashang informed Justice Simon Amobeda who presided over Court 2 of the Calabar Division of the Federal High Court, that a letter to that effect had been filed and is in the records of the court.
On last hearing, when the matter was returned to Justice Amobeda’s court, 57 days after he had recused himself, Mr. Ashang said they were ready to go ahead with the matter. The counsel to the defendant, Attah Ochinke moved a motion to vacate an order of the court which paused all proceedings until an electronic verbatim recorder is provided.
Consequently, in his ruling, Justice Amobeda, who held that the prayers of the defendant were vague, however, granted the prayers of the defence and recused himself for the second time, referring the matter back to the administrative judge of the division, Justice Sule Shuaibu, who had referred the matter back to him to entertain the motion filed by the defendant.
Interestingly, the matter will now appear before Justice Shuaibu by the next court date with the matter likely to start all over where he will be made to take a fresh plea which will make it three times in less than five months.
The courtroom was filled to capacity with dozens of supporters, family members, associates and civil society organizations waiting outside to cheer Jalingo on.
Jalingo arrived at the court premises at about 9:36am in a green van marked “Calabar” with two correctional officers accompanying him. He wore a black shirt with the inscription “Free Nigeria’s Prisoners of Conscience,” blue jeans and black shoes.
The shirt was produced by Amnesty International which had on November 20, 2019 declared him alongside RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare prisoners of conscience.
Sadly, Jalingo has spent 135 days so far since his first arraignment on September 25th 2019 after spending 34 days in police custody following his arrest on August 22, 2019.
As at press time, it remained unclear when Justice Shuaibu will issue a hearing notice for the matter. Jalingo who was listed at number 9 by the One Free Press Coalition in its October 2019 ranking of the 10 ‘Most Urgent’ cases of threat to press freedom across the world was arrested at his Lagos residence.
Amnesty International in a press conference in Calabar had declared that his trial is a “sham” and did not meet the basic standards after Justice Amobeda ordered that witnesses testifying against him be masked and the trial held in secret.
Friday Nwagbara, Calabar
Private Medical Doctors Offer Support To Check Spread Of COVID-19
Private medical doctors in Nigeria under the aiges of Association of General and Private Medcial Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMN) have expressed their readiness and willingness to play their role in stemming the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The association which said this at a media briefing in Port Harcourt however,urged for incentives to support its members.
National President of the Association, Dr Ugwu Iyke Odo, who read the text for the briefing said the doctors were ready and willing to play their professional role to their nation now as ever.
“What is happening is at best a force majeure, an act of God that is beyond the calculation and expectations of any man and the management of which cannot and must not be confined to any regular theories of routine. It is an unusual situation and demands unusual solution’’
Dr Odo also lamented the increase in the cost of medical equipment, adding that it is affecting the running of private hospitals in the country.
“Cost of providing medical services have gone up astronomically while medical bills remain the same and still unaffordable by poor Nigerians, who do not have health insurance.
“What this translates into is that the private doctors and other private health care providers of health are bearing a great burden for the nation and need to be supported and rescued ‘’he said.
The association president also urged the nation to unify its systems and people into one, and said that the health sector should work collaboratively and in synergy.
“In particular, the private sector who are the first respondents need all the support that government can afford at this time.
“This is the time for the government to speak for all and care for all and provide for all more than ever before,’’ he said.
The association used the occasion to commend the doggedness shown by both the federal and Rivers Sate Governments in managing the crisis, and stressed the need for both governments to go the extra mile to support the entre health system irrespective of sectoral divide with medical supplies, including personal protective equipment, medicines and consumables.
RIWAMA Urges Service Providers To Step Up Delivery
The Sole Administrator of the Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA), Bro. Felix Obuah says the agency is challenged by the circumstance of the period more than ever to step up action and has ordered that the service providers rise up to the demand.
Bro. Obuah noted that being in forefront of the relentless efforts of the State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, to ensure that the checkmate of the coronavirus pandemic was watertight, all service providers must work round the clock to rid all nooks and crannies of the state of any refuse dump.
He said for no reason will any service provider be found wanting this time, stressing that the sit-at-home and/or curfew order by the state government exempts all workers on essential duties including the service providers and their workers.
The RIWAMA sole administrator reminded service providers of the fact that their services were indispensable as the panacea for the dreaded decease for now centred on healthy living and should work assiduously to keep the state clean and healthy.
Bro. Obuah also urged the service providers working with the agency to ensure that their drivers and workers were protective gears like hand gloves and medical masks as well as applying all other control measures while carrying out their duties.
COVID-19: Taxi Drivers Defy CRSG’s Order
Taxi drivers in Calabar have defied the order by the Cross River State Government to carry only two passengers at a time to stop the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the state.
Our correspondent, yesterday went round the city to ascertain the level of compliance and spoke with some taxi drivers.
Our source reports that taxi drivers were still going about their normal business of carrying two passengers in the front seat and four passengers at the back, bringing the total to six passengers.
A driver simply known as Etuk said that the order was impossible to be carried out in the state.
He said that most of the drivers that were involved in commercial transportation business in the state did that with hire purchase vehicles and the owners of the vehicles were not interested in what the government was saying.
According to him, all the owners want is their weekly money as agreed.
He said: “All the owners want is their money as agreed with the driver from the beginning.
“So, how do we meet up with payment if we pick only two passengers per trip? How do we maintain the vehicle, fuel them, buy tickets and meet up with the agreed amount with the owners of the vehicles?’’
Another taxi driver, Mr Asuquo Edem, said it was not enough to just give orders, the state government should look at how practicable these orders were.
“People have been ordered to stay at home, meaning that the number of passengers have reduced drastically.
“Yet, you are telling a taxi driver who hardly sees two passengers because of the lockdown to carry just two when he has mouths to feed at home. How will they survive?
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