By Ike Uchechukwu – Calabar
A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has admitted a lecturer and critic of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State charged with terrorism to bail.
In his ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda said the defendant had shown “exceptional circumstances” to permit the Court to exercise its discretion and admit him to bail.
The terms include a bail bond valued at N10 million with two sureties in like sum. One of the surety must be a civil servant with either the State or Federal Government on Grade Level 13 or above while the other must be a “close relative with a verifiable address,” Justice Amobeda ruled.
Also, both sureties are expected to depose to an affidavit and provide two passport photographs.
The defense team was for the first time, comprised of more than one lawyer with E. E. Osim, Oliver Osang, and Assam Assam jr who represented the Abuja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association all entering appearances.
The matter was stood down for a few minutes after it was called due to the absence of the Prosecution Counsel, Dennis Tarhemba.
However, another prosecutor from the Cross River State Police command, C. I. Eze entered an appearance for the prosecution.
Justice Amobeda held that bail pending trial remained a right enshrined in the constitution.
He held that the counter affidavit of the prosecution was “bare” as the deponent is a police officer who “has no expertise in medicine.” He ruled that the “mere claim” of the prosecution that the defendant/applicant was not sick was not enough to discountenance the material evidence placed before the court by the defense.
Odok who arrived Court in the company of two correctional officers sporting a blue jean, bathroom slippers and a black shirt with the inscription “Freedom Cometh By Struggle” was arrested at his Abuja residence on September 26, 2019
Vanguard learned that he spent 26 days in Police custody before he was arraigned on October 22, 2019, on two charges bordering on terrorism and cybercrime.
He, however, pleaded not guilty and was remanded at the Medium Security Custodial Center of the Nigerian Correctional Service where he has spent 91 days so far. He risks a death sentence if convicted.
The matter was adjourned until January 28 and 29 for trial.
His wife had told journalists that his arrest was a plot hatched by the Cross River State government, an allegation, the state denied.