A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, has granted bail to a lawyer and social critic, Mr. Joseph Odok, who was charged with terrorism for criticising the State governor, Prof. Ben Ayade.
Joseph was granted bail on January 21 by Justice Simon Amobeda after 117 days of incarceration in a police cell and Afokang medium prison. He spent 26 days in a police cell and 91 days in prison.
While granting the bail, Justice Amobeda said the defendant had shown “exceptional circumstances” to permit the court to exercise its discretion and admit him to bail.
Justice Amobeda granted joseph the bail which includes a bail bond valued at N10 million with two sureties in like sum, and one of the sureties must be a state or federal civil servant not below Grade Level 13, while the other must be a “close relative with a verifiable address”.
In addition, he asked both sureties to depose to an affidavit and provide two passport photographs.
Leading two other lawyers, the Joseph’s counsel moved the motion for bail pursuant to Section 35 of the 1999 constitution supported by an eight-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Emmanuel Otona.
The motion had three annexures and was accompanied by a written address, which the Joseph’s Counsel adopted as part of the oral argument to support the application.
In his oral submission, the Joseph’s counsel submitted that the counter-affidavit by the prosecution counsel did not contradict the proof in the annexures of the application and urged the court to grant the defendant bail on self-recognition.
The prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba, was not present in court when the matter was called, but another prosecutor from the Cross River State Police Command entered an appearance for the prosecution.
He relied on all the eight paragraphs in the counter-affidavit deposed to by the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), Inspector Ihezuo Ibe, and adopted the written address as part of the prosecution’s oral argument.
He argued that the defendant/applicant had not shown exceptional circumstances for the court to admit him to bail.
But Justice Amobeda, in his ruling, held that bail, pending trial, remained a right enshrined in the constitution and that the counter-affidavit of the prosecution was “bare”, as the deponent is a police officer who “has no expertise in medicine.”
The matter was adjourned till January 28 for trial.