Rosemary Dugbo-Oghoghorie of the Federal High Court, Calabar, on July 1, struck out terrorism and cybercrime charges against a Nigerian lawyer, Joseph Odok.
Mr Odok was arrested by the police in September 2019 in Abuja where he had fled to because of the fear for his life. He was brought back to Calabar, Cross River State, by road, arraigned and then taken into Calabar prison.
The Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, was said to be behind Mr Odok’s travails because of the latter’s constant criticisms of his administration, but the governor had denied the accusation.
Mr Odok’s trial coincided with the arrest and the treason trial of Agba Jalingo, a newspaper publisher and another critic of Governor Ayade.
In 2020 an application by the police to withdraw the charges against Mr Odok was rejected by the court which ruled that it was the attorney-general of the federation, and not the police, that had the power to do so.
More than two years after his arraignment, the case was eventually struck out after the attorney general of Cross River State informed the court that they were no longer interested in prosecuting Mr Odok.
“I am not excited (about the striking out of the case) because I knew I was innocent,” Mr Odok said on Tuesday, while confirming the development to PREMIUM TIMES.
“For those who saw me in the prison custody, I was always smiling.”
Apart from his incarceration in Calabar prison, Mr Odok said he spent huge resources traveling regularly from Abuja to Calabar to appear in court for the trial when he was released on bail.
“My wife lost her job because when they were trying to arrest me, they infiltrated her office (in Abuja).
“In all of these, I am not excited about the court judgement because it ought to have come since. I was not even supposed to sleep in the prison,” he said.
The lawyer said he was not going to seek redress because “this government is becoming fearful”.
Mr Odok, who had also lost his lecturing job at the University of Calabar, said he had realised that “Nigeria is not worth dying for.”
“I am afraid of Nigeria because in all of my ordeals, I went there alone and came back alone. Everybody that I felt was around me left me to dance the dance, so I will just be quiet.
“There was an attempt to assassinate me in Calabar.
“There was a point I was no longer sleeping because of Nigeria, there was a point I was no longer sleeping because of Cross River,” he said.
Mr Odok had been consistent in his political support for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
On Governor Ayade’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the APC, Mr Odok said he welcomed the governor to the APC but that he still has “problem” with him because of his incarceration.
“I have never talked to Ayade since I was born, I have never seen him since I was born. I saw him pass in a convoy once.
“I have stopped thinking about Nigeria, now I can sleep well,” he said.
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