Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Releases Court Proceedings Commiting Inibehe Effiong To Prison
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot, has finally released the record of proceedings in a case in which she committed human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to prison.
The document was released on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the incarcerated lawyer filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Uyo, asking the court to compel Mrs. Obot to release it.
It could be recalled that on July 27, Effiong was sent to prison by Obot after the lawyer reportedly protested against the presence of armed policemen in court.
Effiong was in court to defend Leo Ekpenyong, a lawyer, in a libel suit filed by Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom.
Many Nigerians, including civil society organizations (CSOs), called for the release of Effiong.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) also said Effiong was not given a fair hearing before he was sent to prison by Obot, and the organization threatened to write a petition against the judge at the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Effiong, on Tuesday, filed a suit against Obot over an alleged violation of his fundamental human rights.
The suit was filed through Femi Falana, his lawyer. In the suit, the human rights lawyer said the judge had refused to furnish him with a copy of the judgment committing him to prison.
He, therefore, asked the court for an order directing the chief judge to furnish him with a copy of the judgment to enable him to file an appeal.
In the record of proceedings, the judge had asked, a Premium Times, journalist to leave the court for covering the proceedings without permission.
But Effiong had reportedly objected, saying the court was an open court and the judge was wrong to have sent the journalist out.
The record showed that Effiong was “shouting, pointing at the court and banging the table” in protest.
“This is an open court. It is wrong for you to send out the journalist. That journalist has every right to make a video recording of these proceedings. I cannot continue until the phone is handed over to the journalist to continue his work,” Effiong had reportedly said.
Effiong also complained that the presence of several police officers in the courtroom was intimidating. But the judge accused Effiong of using the journalist to “run down the court”.
She asked Effiong to continue with the cross-examination, but he allegedly refused. She then accused Effiong of being “insolent and stalling the court proceedings”.
Effiong also reportedly refused to “de-robe” himself and leave the court as ordered by the judge.
“Is he not that same journalist you have been using, to run this court down,” she reportedly said.
“You want to run down my good name, which I have built for over 33 years because you want to be popular,” the chief judge said.
“You have gone beyond that, I am citing you for contempt for your unruly conduct and behavior in this court.
“In that case, you are hereby committed to the Custodial Centre for 1 (one) month until you purge yourself of the contempt.”