Trial of Nigerian blogger moves from magistrate to federal high court

The trial of Utitofon Ukpong, a Nigerian blogger in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, has moved from the magistrate to a federal high court in the city.

Mr Ukpong, who publishes a popular blog called ‘Sitipe ke Akwa Ibom’, was arrested December last year by the police in Akwa Ibom for allegedly publishing defamatory materials against Godswill Akpabio, a senator from the state.

The blog focuses on the happenings around Akwa Ibom State.

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The blogger was detained for two days before he was arraigned before a magistrate. The case later moved to a federal high court, one month after the trial began.

Mr Ukpong, accompanied by his lawyer, Ekemini Udim, was at the federal high court this Friday, but the hearing could not commence because of the absence of the judge, A. Okeke.

A representative of the European Union was at the court to observe the case.

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Mr Ukpong’s lawyer, Mr Udim, spoke to PREMIUM TIMES at the court premises.

“Today was for hearing,” he said.

“On the adjourned date, the judge insisted that the complainant must be in court to testify, else the matter would be struck off.

“Today, we came, but unfortunately we understand the judge is on official assignment outside the state and indisposed for the trial of the matter.”

This would be the third time the matter was called in the federal high court since it was moved from the magistrate court.

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The blogger’s lawyer said he did not understand why the police prosecutor, Japheth Japheth, preferred to file the case at the federal high court, instead of continuing at the magistrate court.

The case was adjourned to April 29.

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