Agba Jalingo Dragged To Court Over Character Defamation Of Ben Ayade’s In-Law

The Police in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, has dragged a Nigerian journalist and activist, Agba Jalingo, to court for allegedly defaming Elizabeth Ayade, a daughter-in-law of the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade.

Jalingo had in August 2022 been arrested by the police after hours of laying siege to his Lagos residence for allegedly defaming Elizabeth’s character, but the journalist was later released after some days in detention.

The suit dated December 6, 2022, according to a Wednesday report by Sahara Reporters, partly read, “That you Agba Jalingo male of No.14 Oremeji Street, Ojudu Alapere Lagos on 30th June, 2022 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did intentionally Published online at Cross River Watch and alleged that one Mrs Elizabeth Ayade Procured the services of one Pascal Aboh to write Nigeria Law School Examination Bar Examination for her an information you know to be false for the purpose of causing her annoyance, ill will and insult. You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 24(1) b of CYBERCRIMES (PROTECTION, PREVENTION ETC) ACT, 2015.

Recall, FCT police had stated, “On Saturday, August 20, 2022, Jalingo was arrested by the State Criminal Investigative Department operatives in response to a petition filed against him by one Elizabeth Ayade.

“He was arrested over a false allegation, claiming that she (Elizabeth) paid one Mr. Pascal to write an examination for her at the law school.”

Elizabeth had, through her lawyers, Uyi Frank Obayagbona & Co, in a letter, dated July 6, 2022, directed to Jalingo, asked the publisher to delete a report on his media platform allegedly defaming her character.

The letter stated that Elizabeth was being linked to one Paschal Aboh, who was said to have been arrested in May 2022, and being prosecuted for involving in examination malpractice at the Nigerian Law School for impersonating a yet-to-be-identified candidate – rumoured, allegedly to be Elizabeth, the wife of the governor’s brother.

Paschal is said to have been suspended as a lecturer at the University of Calabar for impersonation.

The letter from Elizabeth’s lawyer was titled, ‘DEFAMATORY PUBLICATION ON MRS ELIZABETH ALAMI FRANK AYADE.’

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The letter partly read, “We are solicitors to M. Elizabeth, on whose instructions and behalf, we write.

“Our client has drawn our attention to your online publication Cross River Watch, of June 30, 2022 and your Facebook publication.”

It further read, “Similarly, sometime in the month of June, 2022, you also published in your Facebook account as follows: ‘Pascal Aboh, the Law lecturer who was arrested at the Law School in Bwari, went to write that exam for the wife of a prominent politician from Obudu, just wait for the details.

“‘#LawSchoolNeedstoExplain. Why charge Pascal Aboh to court and shielding Alami Frank Ayade, who procured Pascal to write her Law School Exam for her? Because she is rich?’”

It added, “We wish to state emphatically that the natural and ordinary meaning of these words which are seriously defamatory of our client is that our client is a cheat, fraudster, influence peddler, untrustworthy and a deceitful person, who obtained her numerous academic qualifications by false pretences and also seeking to become a member of the noble profession as a Legal Practitioner by dubious means. The above words published by you are completely false in their entirety and extremely libellous on our client in total disregard of the ethics and tenets of journalism.

“By your said publication, our client’s reputation and personality have been seriously maligned and injured by the defamatory words, the nature of which are deeply distressing and embarrassing to our client and her family.

“Flowing from the foregoing, we have our client’s instructions to demand and we hereby, demand as follows: The immediate unequivocal retraction of the publication on all your media platforms. That you publish forthwith an open apology to our client on two National Dailies and your online platforms including but not limited to CrossRiverWatch, Facebook, Instagram etc.”

However, a sum of 500 million naira was also demanded from Jalingo as compensation and subsequently threatened a legal action. He was asked to respond within 14 days of receipt of the letter.

Jalingo was then arrested after his Lagos residence came under siege by men of the Nigeria Police Force and moved to Alapere Police Station where he was detained at Area F Police Station.

The police flew him to Abuja and conclusively released him on bail.

Elizabeth Ayade is the wife of Frank Ayade, who is a brother to the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade.