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Odinkalu blasts NBA over neglect of member victimised by Gov Ayade

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CHIDI Odinkalu, former Chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), has called out the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and accused the group of neglecting a member Joseph Odok who is being victimised by Governor of River State, Ben Ayade for criticising his government.

Odok is a lecturer at the University of Calabar, an activist and a lawyer.

In a series of tweets shared on his Twitter page, Odinkalu reported about the trials of Odok who was first suspended  from work in 2018 for criticising the Vice Chancellor Zana Akpagu on Facebook, and now in jail for criticising Ayade.

According to reports, Odok was suspended after alleging that the University of Calabar lost its accreditation for law programme, but the VC deceived prospective candidates to apply and later “run helter-skelter to bribe” Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB) to enrol students  into  law faculty, despite losing accreditation.

Suspension letter of Joseph Odok from University of Calabar

Odok trouble doubled the following year for criticising Ayade.

In September 2019, he was abducted from his residence in Abuja and was missing for over seven days, Odinkalu said in his tweet.

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On october 4, it became clear who the abductors of the former lecturer and lawyer were when the police presented him at a high court in Calabar, before Justice Simon Amobeda, seeking an order to detain him for 90 days without bail or trial.

Amobeda granted the police permission to detain Odok for another 45 days, after he had spent several days in the cell.

Recall that another critic of Governor Ayade, Agba Jalingo; a publisher and journalist, who demanded accountability in his report of the governor’s administration was also arrested and arraigned before Justice Amobeda.

Jalingo and Odok, both critics of Ayade’s government, have spent a collective 160 days in jail with no option of bail.

Jalingo in his case, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

He was charged with disturbance of public peace and treason.

In similar vein, Odok, who also criticised the governor was abducted on September 26 and only surfaced when the police took him to court on October 4.

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He also has been charged with terrorism and cyberstalking.

Joseph Odok in court. Charged with terrorism and cyberstalking.

As at the time of filing this report, both men remain in jail with no option of bail.

The NBA, a professional group of lawyers to which Odok belongs states on its website that it “engages in the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law and good governance in Nigeria.”

Odinkalu’s tweets have raised a question about  the veracity of this claim.

 

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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