The Federal High Court, Calabar, has rejected an application by the Nigerian police to withdraw terrorism charges against Joseph Odok, a Nigerian lawyer and an avowed critic of the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.
Dennis Tarhemba, a deputy superintendent of police and the prosecution counsel, in a motion filed before the court, last month, said they were withdrawing the charges because the police headquarters in Abuja wanted Mr Odok and the case transferred to them for a thorough investigation.
The court presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda on November 13 refused to grant the application.
The judge, Mr Amobeda, ruled that it was the attorney general of the federation, and not the police, that has power to withdraw the charges against Mr Odok.
The judge relying on Section 174 of the Nigerian Constitution said that any prosecutor filing charges on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could only do so through the authority of the attorney general of the federation and therefore it was only the attorney general that has the power to withdraw a charge either by himself or through a document to anybody who is representing him.
The court would sit again on November 27 for its ruling on Mr Odok’s bail application.
Mr Odok was represented by his lawyer, Oliver Osang,
The lawyer was arrested on September 26 in Abuja and taken to Calabar by road.
His 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 Facebook in September, Mr Odok described the governor as a “joker”
“Ayade keep 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?
“A man that can’t complete a single road keeps talking Super High Way, Deep Sea Port and now Spaghetti flyover. This joke is getting out of hands,” he wrote on Facebook.
“What they call terrorism, according to the prosecution counsel, is that he incited his community people against another community,” Mr Odok’s lawyer, Mr Osang, told PREMIUM TIMES. “The charges are phantom charges, they are politically motivated.”
Mr Odok is also charged with cybercrime for allegedly accusing the chief of staff to Mr Ayade of being a cultist.