Police get court order to detain Gov Ayade’s critic

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade
Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade

The police in Cross River State have reportedly obtained a court order to keep a Nigerian lawyer, Joseph Odok, in detention.

Mr Odok, a known critic of the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, was arrested on September 26 in Abuja on allegation of “terrorism” and taken to Calabar by road.

The court order was obtained on Friday at the Federal High Court, Calabar, through a motion ex-parte by a prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba, according to a report published by CrossRiverWatch.

Mr Tarhemba, a deputy superintendent of police, is the same official prosecuting a Nigerian journalist, Agba Jalingo, in the same court.

Mr Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper with a focus on Cross River State, is in Calabar prison, charged with treason, over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Mr Ayade.

CrossRiverWatch in its report on the detention order against Mr Odok, said the prosecution counsel argued before Justice Simon Amobeda that the police needed time to travel around with the detained lawyer to “retrieve items that will be used in their case”.

Mr Odok, according to the paper, is charged with criminal conspiracy, rape, treasonable felony, terrorism, and obtaining money under false pretense.

Oliver Osang, Mr Odok’s lawyer, however, told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday evening that he was not aware of such court order against his client.

“He was not taken to any court. I was with him till about 5 p.m. on Friday, he has not been served with any court order,” Mr Osang said.

“Whenever we are served with an order, we will approach the same court to set it aside because it is fraudulently obtained. We are not aware of any court order. We should have been served with an order if there is any.”

Mr Osang said the police have been trying to “rope in” Mr Odok in Mr Jalingo’s case and that of the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore, who is standing trial in Abuja over the #RevolutionNow protest.

“As far as I am concerned, there is no evidence from them to show that he (Mr Odok) is a terrorist or he was terrorising any government,” the lawyer said. “Whatever they are doing is politically motivated, it is just to punish him.”

He said he was preparing to go to court to seek the release of the lawyer.

The police spokesperson in Cross River, Irene Ugbo, told PREMIUM TIMES Saturday evening that Mr Odok was being detained because of his “connection” with the incarcerated journalist, Mr Jalingo.

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She, however, said she was not aware if there was a court order to detain the lawyer or not.

Meanwhile, Cecilia, the wife of the detained lawyer, has appealed to the police to release her husband.

Mrs Odok said their three children have been crying since the day their father was taken away by the police.

“I have been telling them that their father traveled, they have been so moody. He has never stayed away from them for this long,” she said.

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