2 November 2007

Nigeria: Court Grants Bail to Newspaper Publisher in A/Ibom

Uyo — A publisher of a local newspaper, Event newspaper, Mr. Jore-me Imeime, was on Wednesday granted bail by a High Court sitting in Uyo in Akwa Ibom state. Mr Imeime has been standing trial at a magistrate court on a one count charge of malicious and seditious publication which appeared in his newspaper of Tuesday October 16, titled: Akpabio Fingers Treasury.

The publication said Governor Godswill Akpabio allegedly embarked on fingering the allocation meant for local governments in the state to the extent of cutting and giving the councils half of the sum meant for them.

In a 17-paragraph affidavit filed through his lawyer Mr. Chris Ezeibe Esq, he prayed the court to grant him bail since the offence with which he was being charged, is a bailable one.

According to the learned counsel, "my Lord, there in the prison custody, my client is being held; I have seen scores men and women awaiting trials who have been in such custody for many years and have not been charged for any criminal offence. My client is a first offender who has not been charged for any criminal offence".

He urged the court to, in the interest of justice, grant the application.

In a counter affidavit, Mrs Mary Ewah and F. S. Itim, who represented the Chief Litigation Officer in the Public Prosecution Department of the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Justice, Uyo, had argued that the Event Newspaper is not registered with any government body responsible for such registration.

The publisher, according to the state law officer, was arrested in a beer parlour where he usually hangs out to fish for rumours that he can publish.

In his ruling, Justice Edemekong allowed the plea of the applicant and thereby admitted the publisher on bail in the sum of N25,000.00 with one surety in like sum.

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