NGO Calls for Immediate Release of Detained Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong

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A CIVIL society organisation, Citizens’ Solution Network, has called for the immediate release of human rights, Inibehe Effiong, who was on Wednesday morning sent to prison by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot.

Richard F. Inoyo, Country Director, of Citizens’ Solution Network, made the call in a press release calling the action of the judge as “despicable and shameless.” Mr Inoyo said the action of Justice Obot is both a travesty of the rule of law and a fragrant abuse of her privilege.

The release, entitled: “A Call For The Immediate Release Of Inibehe Effiong Esq.” reads: “It is with great displeasure that the entire Civilian Population of  Citizens’ Solution Network received the status report from Akwa Ibom State Judiciary over the despicable and shameless action taken by Justice Ekaette Obot of the Akwa Ibom State High Court against Inibehe Effiong (Esq) a practicing lawyer who appeared in Court this morning being 27th July, 2022 to defend one Leo Ekpenyong against a petition brought in by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel on the ground of defamation.

“Let it be on public registry that the pronouncement of Justice Ekaette Obot that called for the imprisonment of Inibehe Effiong Esq over his request that armed police officers be asked to stay outside the court following a formal application that Justice Ekaette Obot recuse herself from the case brought to the law court is not only unacceptable and despicable, the entire civilian population council considers the  action of her lordship as both a travesty of the rule of law and a fragrant abuse of her privilege.

“At this point, we at Citizens’ Solution Network wish to call on the National Judicial Council, to call Justice Ekaette Obot to order and demand that she does not abuse her privileges and office any further.

“For a judiciary that loses ethics and disregard morality in all case of legal representation is not only demanding that the general public takes matter into their hands, it sends a wrong signal that lady justice has gone rogue, a bad omen for not just the legal profession but for the entire country with volatile expectations.

“Finally, we call for the immediate release of Inibehe Effiong Esq without any condition whatsoever in furtherance of ethical sanity and judiciary sanctity.

“Let this be the first and last time a sitting judge will use his or her office to promote oppression or stiffen legal representation, for her own professional essence lies within the purview of attending to proceedings and unpacking legal representation from practitioners of the law.”

The incident

A report by Abuja-based online newspaper, Premium Times, narrated that Effiong broke the news of his being sent to prison via a status update on WhatsApp platform around 10:40am Wednesday morning.

“I have been sent to Uyo prison by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, for one month for defending Leo Ekpenyong in a libel suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel,” Mr Effiong reportedly said in the WhatsApp message. He also reportedly posted details of the incident on his Twitter page.

“The Chief Judge of Akwa Akwa Ibom ordered a Premium Times reporter to leave the court. I said my lord, we were thinking that since the proceeding is public, that members of the public should be allowed to observe the proceeding. My Lord asked me to proceed with cross examination,” he had tweeted.

“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even [given] opportunity to say anything before the “conviction”. Two lawyers in court appealed to the Hon. Chief Judge but my Lord insisted that I must be jailed.”

Premium Times also quoted a lawyer who was at the court during the incident corroborating the action by Justice Obot.

Justice Obot was reported to have in previous proceedings ordered court officials to temporarily seize phones from reporters and others in the courtroom, apparently to prevent the proceedings from being recorded secretly. She was said to have then threatened to send Mr Effiong to prison.

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