Nigeria: Wife of Detained Critic of Governor Ayade Seeks Buhari's Intervention

21 November 2019

The wife of Joseph Odok, a Nigerian lawyer and critic of the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in her husband's terrorism trial.

Mr Odok was arrested by the police on September 26 in Abuja and taken to Calabar where he was charged with terrorism, an offence that could attract a death penalty if convicted.

"What they call terrorism, according to the prosecution counsel, is that he incited his community people against another community," Mr Odok's lawyer, Oliver Osang, told PREMIUM TIMES. "The charges are phantom charges, they are politically motivated."

Mr Odok is being remanded in Calabar prison.

The lawyer's arrest and incarceration is believed to have been instigated by the governor, Mr Ayade, because of his constant criticism of the Cross River government.

In one of his posts on the social media site in September, Mr Odok described the governor as a "joker".

"Ayade keeps getting it wrong with lofty projects. Why talk of Spaghetti flyover when you have not maintained or completed a single road project from your first administration?" he wrote on Facebook.

"A man that can't complete a single road keeps talking SuperHighWay, Deep Sea Port and now Spaghetti flyover. This joke is getting out of hands."

Mr Odok is also charged with cybercrime for allegedly accusing the chief of staff to Mr Ayade of being a cultist.

My husband is innocent - Wife

Cecilia, the incarcerated lawyer's wife, said her husband is innocent of the charges against him.

"How can someone perpetrate acts of terrorism without a gun or any gang?" she asked in an open letter she wrote in November to President Muhammadu Buhari.

A copy of the letter was forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES by Mrs Odok.

Mrs Odok, in the letter, said her husband was being hounded not only because of his criticism of Mr Ayade's administration, but also because he (Mr Odok) is a member of Mr Buhari's party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and an "ardent supporter" of the president.

She said Cross River state officials who were under police investigation for an alleged attempt on her husband's life were also the same people behind his current travails.

Mrs Odok asked President Buhari to direct the attorney general of the federation to take over the terrorism case against her husband because, according to her, the Cross River government could compromise the investigation and trial.

She also appealed to the president to direct an investigation into the alleged assassination attempt on her husband.

"My decision to write you an open letter is because my husband's earlier letter to you through the office of your Chief of Staff was not attended to and the injustices against my husband have nose-dived to unbearable level.

"In my husband's earlier letter, he was duly introduced to you by the Cross River state APC Acting Chairman, Sir John Ochala, who clearly stated the reasons for his persecutions to be because of his support for your government and our great party APC," Mrs Cecilia said in the letter.

An application by the police to withdraw the terrorism charges against Mr Odok has been rejected by the court on the grounds that it is only the attorney general of the federation that is empowered by the Nigerian Constitution to take such action.

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