By Jonathan Ugbal
A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda has granted leave for the Nigerian Police to detain legal practitioner, Mr. Joseph Odok for 45 days.
The Police had arrested Mr. Odok at his Abuja residence on September 26, 2019 and he has since been detained at the Anti Cultism and Kidnapping Squad facility with controlled access to him.
And, on Friday, the Police approached the Court with a motion exparte seeking to detain Mr. Odok for 90 days.
The counsel to the complainant/applicant, Mr. Dennis Tarhemba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in his oral argument said the order will aid the Police to travel with the defendants within and outside the jurisdiction of the Court to retrieve items that will their case.
According to the application, Odok is charged with criminal conspiracy, rape, treasonable felony, terrorism and obtaining money under false pretenses.
Mr. Tarhemba while moving his motion said it was brought pursuant to section 4 of Police Act 2004 and section 35 subsection 5(b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He also relied on Section 37 of the terrorism prevention and amendment act 2013 which he said is under the “inherent jurisdiction of this honorable Court.”
The motion is supported by a 13 paragraph affidavit dated October 3, 2019 and filed the same day. There are two annexures marked NPF 1 and NPF 2 Tarhemba said.
CrossRiverWatch understands that one of the annexures is a petition bordering on threat to life from an unknown lawyer and Tarhemba said, adding that there is an accompanying written address even as he submitted that they will rely on all the paragraphs on the affidavit and urged the court to grant the relief as stated in the motion paper.
And, in his ruling, Justice Amobeda held that the effect of the word ‘may’ subjects the application to the discretion of the Court and granted the detention of Mr. Odok for 45 days, subject to renewal.
Premium Times had reported that Mr. Odok’s wife, Cecilia Ogbeche had he was arrested by two Police officers last week Thursday in Abuja and taken to Calabar by road.
“The police said they have been trailing him for about two weeks; they have been tracking his phone line,” she said.
She said Mr Ayade was behind her husband’s arrest and detention. “Somebody warned my husband on Facebook that they will soon give him the same treatment they are giving to Agba Jalingo,” she said.
Mr Jalingo, a journalist and publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper with focus on Cross River State, is in prison in Calabar, charged with treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State government over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor.
Odok, an avowed critic of the Mr. Ayade’s administration was among those who were demanding for Mr. Jalingo’s release.
“They (Cross River government) have a hand in my husband’s arrest,” Mrs Odok insisted, an allegation the Cross River State government denies.
Mr. Ayade’s spokesperson, Christian Ita, denied the governor’s involvement in the arrest and detention of Mr Odok.
“It’s wrong for people to describe as the governor’s critic, anyone arrested by the police. The governor does not know anything about his arrest, the police are in a better position to tell you why they have arrested him,” Mr Ita had told PREMIUM TIMES.
However, his lawyer, Mr. Oliver Osang told CrossRiverWatch that; “From the way the Police is sounding, it may be instigated by people in government.”
He told this reporter on phone on Wednesday that, “He has not been charged to Court but they have taken a Statement from him.”
CrossRiverWatch understands that on Prince Ekanem Ekpo who is a key feature in Jalingo’s case is also mentioned in Mr. Odok’s case.
Now, Odok has been out of Cross River State for about two years after an alleged assassination attempt. Several top government officials including the Chief of Staff to Governor Ben Ayade, Mr. Martins Orim, the then State Security Adviser, Mr. Jude Ngaji among others were mentioned in the case and invited for questioning.
This happened shortly after his running battles with the management of the University of Calabar led to his suspension as lecturer and subsequent sack amidst claims that he had resigned.
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