Friday, 17 January 2020

Bail Hearing Of Ayade’s Critic Charged With Terrorism Adjourned Until January 21

A Federal High Court sitting in Nigeria's southern port city of Calabar on Friday adjourned the bail hearing for Joseph Odok, a lawyer charged with terrorism and cybercrime for criticizing Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State until Tuesday, January 21 at the instance of the prosecution.

Justice Simon Amobeda who presides over the matter in his ruling, granted the submission of the prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba which referred the court to its rules that grant a party up to a week to join issues on any process filed.

Tarhemba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police had failed to appear in Court on Thursday with Justice Amobeda ruling that the defense counsel, Oliver Osang will be allowed to move the motion for bail should the prosecutor be absent.

And, on Friday, Tarhemba submitted that his office received the process two days back (on Wednesday) and was yet to file a response due to the fact he had traveled and returned on Thursday.

"We filed the motion on Wednesday and served them that same day," Mr. Osang told journalists. He further averred that, "We wait for them to join issues and see what they come up with by the next Court date."

Mr. Odok risks a death sentence if convicted for alleged acts of terrorism premised on a post credited to him on Facebook and remains remanded at the Medium Security Custodial Center in Calabar where he has spent 88 days so far.

He was arrested at his Abuja residence on September 26, 2019 and endured what family members say was a tortuous journey by road to Calabar where he was then detained at a black site facility.

He spent seven days in the facility before the Police approached the Calabar division of the Federal High Court seeking an order to detain him for 90 days on October 4, 2019.

The prosecution counsel, Tarhemba, said the order will aid the Police to travel with the defendant within and outside the jurisdiction of the Court to retrieve items that will aid their case.

According to the application, Odok was charged with criminal conspiracy, rape, treasonable felony, terrorism and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Justice Amobeda in his ruling granted 45 days with an option for renewal.

However, ten days later on October 14th, the Police filed two charges against Odok bordering on terrorism and cyberstalking.

Justice Amobeda in his ruling of December 16, 2019 refused admitting Odok to bail on the grounds that the defense had not shown exceptional circumstances to warrant the Court to exercise its discretion.