#RevolutionNow: Court Discharges, Acquits Two Journalists In Calabar

A magistrate court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, and presided over by Chief Magistrate Rita Marshall on Tuesday discharged and acquitted two journalists for alleged misconduct in the RevolutionNow protest of August 5, 2019.

Three charges bordering on conspiracy to unlawfully assemble, unlawful assembly and conduct likely to cause a breach of public peace were preferred against Jonathan Ugbal and Jeremiah Archibong, who serve as News Editor and Managing Editor of CrossRiverWatch, an online news platform following their arrest.

The duo were arraigned on August 7, 2019 and after a lengthy trial with dramatic sequences, the defense counsel, Kehole Enya, filed a no case to answer application adopted on July 15, 2020, which the court upheld on Tuesday.

Magistrate Marshall held that the prosecution had “woefully and helplessly” failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants to warrant them to enter a defense and subsequently discharged and acquitted the duo.

Reacting to the ruling of the court, Mr Enya said, “Today’s ruling is victory for justice and for our democracy. If our democracy must thrive, then we must fight tyranny till the end. This victory today, supports the course of justice.”

Enya, who said he was confident the prosecution had no case, urged civic space actors to remain steadfast even as he hoped that the judiciary will “rise to their responsibility of being the hope of the common man and rise up to duty calls”.

For the second defendant, Mr Archibong, this was “victory of truth over lies, light over darkness and press freedom over repression”.

Archibong averred that it was clear that there were attempts to “stifle the press and silent the voice of dissents”.

He, however, expressed optimism that it was clear there was a stronger will to “reclaim the shrinking civic space in Cross River, the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large”.

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