Simon Amobeda,a judge in the federal high court Calabar,recused himself from the case of Agba Jalingo.
Simon Amobeda, a judge in the federal high court in Calabar, has recused himself from the case of Agba Jalingo.
Jalingo, a journalist standing trial over “attempt to topple the government of Cross River”, had accused Amobeda of making statements implying that judgment in his court is a matter of favour rather than law and justice.
In an audio obtained by Zolexreporters.net, the judge was heard saying the journalist’s life was in the hands of the court.
He also accused Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, Jalingo’s counsel ,of being too proud, saying he would not be intimidated by the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
After the publication, Jalingo wrote to John Tsoho, chief judge of the federal high court in Abuja, seeking reassignment of his case.
He said it had become clear that he would not get fair trial under Amobeda.
“As Justice Simon Amobeda also reportedly stated in the secret audio recording, the charge on which he is to try me ‘is a criminal matter that the punishment carries death penalty.’ The charge I am to face trial on is based on some trumped-up allegations by Governor Benedict Ayade of Cross River State, and I am eager to meet it head-on-head and defend myself and establish my innocence before the court of law and justice,” he wrote in the letter.
“However, I see no chance of fair trial for me in my case when the judge before whom the case (and my fate) lies is one whose understanding of justice, and the dispensation of it, is depicted in the above statements and comments, among many others alike made by Justice Amobeda in the secret audio recording.”
When the journalist’s matter came up for hearing on Wednesday, Amobeda referred the case to Sule Shuaibu, the administration judge of the division who is the senior judicial officer there.
Amobeda explained it was only proper for him to step aside, given the attention accorded the case by the media.
Making reference to the affidavits deposed to by Jalingo, the judge said supporting the motion were “false, unfounded and misguided.”
He said Jalingo never applied for the record of proceedings to tender before the court but rather resorted to “inciting the public against the court”.
Amobeda added that it was “regrettable” that Olumide-Fusika, who according to him does not have the record of proceedings, relied on “ baseless accusations”.
Jalingo was first arraigned in August following a story he published on how Ayade allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for Cross River State Microfinance Bank