Ortom: Police Arraign Journalist For Alleged Defamation, Incitement

July 9, 2021
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A Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Justice Vincent Kor on Friday granted bail to a journalist, Sunday Egena Ode.

Mr Ode, who is an editor with Peoples Daily newspaper appeared in court on allegation of cybercrime offence against the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom and the state government

He is also being accused of falsehood, defamation of character, inciting disturbance and insulting language contrary to the cybercrime law, 2014.

When the matter came up, counsel to the defendant Barr. Okpale Ojikpa observed an ambiguity in the First Information Report (FIR) on whether the offences are against Governor Ortom or the state government.

He added that the said offences were said to be seen on the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Whatsapp group even when the defendant is not a lawyer.

Moving his oral application for bail, Barr. Okpale argued that the offences against his client were bailable, noting that he (Ode) had in all ramifications displayed a sense of integrity by presenting himself in court without compulsion.

According to Okpale, ”my client has shown evidence of a citizen who would not run away from trial or interfer with Police investigation. He has met all the conditions for bail as enshrined in section 166 of Criminal Penal Code, CPC.”

Police investigator, Inspector Anthony Idoko, told the court that the defendant was arrested on April 22, 2021 and released three days after, maintaining that he was never re-arrested by the Police as he came on his own to the court from his house.

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Police Prosecutor, Hyacinth Gbako, failed in his arguments to oppose the application for bail as he incoherently muttered that the offences against the defendant was published on the internet.

Asked by the presiding Magistrate if the defendant was re-arrested on different charges, Gbako could not explain. Hence, he incurred the wrath of Chief Magistrate who said, “Prosecutor you are misleading the court.”

In his ruling, Chief Magaitrate Vincent Kor noted that the defendant was initially granted administrative bail because he displayed a sense of responsibility..

“I find merit in application for bail by counsel to the defendant and grant him same in the sum of 500,000 naira and a surety in like sum who should deposit a document of landed property with the registrar of the Court, two (2) passports and photocopy of National Identity card.”

As at the time of filing this report, the defendant was still finding it difficult to meet the bail conditions.

The case was adjourned to August 31, 2021 for further mention.

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