In his first public statement after his release on from prison, Joseph Odok, a Nigerian lawyer charged with terrorism for criticising Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, has called for the release of a Nigerian journalist, Agba Jalingo, from prison.
Mr Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, is facing treason charges.
He was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
Mr Odok and Mr Jalingo are from Cross River. The two men have been together in Calabar prison, awaiting trial, before Mr Odok was granted bail on January 21.
“I am yet to appreciate those who stood up for my release and feel first thing I should do is to ask for the immediate release of an innocent man and my friend, Agba Jalingo,” Mr Odok wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.
“We got so close as cell mates in prison and would have felt better if we were both released together but as fate made it, I was granted bail before him not for any reason but for what only God knows why.
“Agba Jalingo is innocent and the prison should never be his home. I join all lovers of democracy to call on the CRS government to immediately release Agba Jalingo,” the lawyer said.
Mr Odok said he would do a “special appreciation message” to people who campaigned for his freedom. “I am now happily joined to my family in Abuja,” he said.
“I am so sorry my write up is coming this late, the police refused to give me my phone on grounds that it was given as an exhibit, I had no access to my phone all this while, I have lost some numbers too and hope to garner them soonest. Thank you all,” he added.
Mr Odok appealed to Nigerians to join him in the #ReleaseAgbaJalingoNow campaign on Twitter.
Mr Jalingo recently released prison notes through which he said he would not “bow to force” and urged the people of Cross River to be resolute against dictatorship.
“Dictatorship has never defeated goodwill and a determined people. Even if I end up not standing with you in the summit, remain strong and be rest assured that the arc of life is on our side and we will win,” he said in one of the prison notes.
“When this wind has finished blowing yonder, and it shall soon; we will look back and be glad we stuck our necks on the guillotine and history will only be fair to us, our people shall be free, the will of God would have been done and God’s name will be glorified,” he said.
Mr Jalingo’s trial was in November listed among 10 “most urgent” cases of threats to press freedom around the world.
Amnesty International and several other organisations have been calling for Mr Jalingo’s release from prison.