There was mild drama at the High Court of Cross River State on Thursday as Mr. Denis Tarhemba, the Counsel to the Nigeria Police in a suit seeking to enforce the fundamental human rights of Journalist and activist, Mr. Agba Jalingo, snatched documents from the hands of a former Attorney General of the State, Attah Ochinke.
Mr. Tarhemba who served his written response to the process filed by Jalingo’s lawyers during the Court session had approached Mr. Ochinke for the documents when the Court rose for a break to reconvene by noon.
“When the former AG told him that, ‘look, you just served me this response in open court and I can’t give it back to you,’ he snatched the document from his hand after heated arguments which drew attention at the Court premises,” Jeremiah Archibong, a journalist who witnessed the scene said.
According to Archibong when fielding questions from reporters, Mr. Tarhemba later approached Jalingo’s lawyers to plead with journalists not to report on the drama. The Counsel to CrossRiverWatch James Ibor assured him that CrossRiverWatch won’t publish but can’t say for others.
Mr. Jalingo was arrested in his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 by Police personnel following his publication of an article asking Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River to come clean on the whereabouts of the N500 million that was released for the State’s Microfinance bank.
His arrest came on the heels of a police invitation which was scheduled for September 3rd and Jalingo had repeatedly said he will honor. He remains in detention while activists, civil society organizations among others have clamored for his release.
However, the Police has since failed to arraign him in Court despite serving him with a charge sheet.
His legal team had approached the Court seeking an enforcement of fundamental human rights and the Police refused service. The Judge, Justice Isoni Francisca had granted a prayer for substituted service.
But, on Thursday, Mr. Tarhemba argued that the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Adamu Muhammed was yet to be served.
“The Court has instructed us to fulfil all righteousness and ensure the Affidavit of service on the Nigerian Police Force is filed to prove due service in line with the Law or in the alternative bring a formal motion to strike out the 1st Respondent’s name (The 1st Respondent is The Nigerian Police Force),” said Barrister James Ibor who is also on Jalingo’s legal team.
He explained that the best proof of service was presence in Court and pointed out that there was precedence that service on the Commissioner of Police was service on the Inspector General of Police.
The matter has been adjourned to Monday, September 9, 2019.