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EXCLUSIVE: Power-drunk Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Making Moves To Forge Court Proceedings Used To Illegally Jail Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong

EXCLUSIVE: Power-drunk Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Making Moves To Forge Court Proceedings Used To Illegally Jail Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong
August 4, 2022

Many Nigerians, including civil society organisations (CSOs), have called for the immediate release of Effiong. 

The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot is making moves to forge the court proceedings she used to sentence human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong to one-month imprisonment for alleged contempt, SaharaReporters has gathered. 

Last Wednesday, Obot sent Effiong to one month in prison after the lawyer said he did not feel safe in court.  

The human rights lawyer, who is also the National Legal Adviser of the African Action Congress (AAC), 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 organisations (CSOs), have called for the immediate release of Effiong. 

“The Chief Judge is currently working round the clock to doctor the proceedings in which she used to sentence Inibehe after condemnation from right and left. 

“Different people have exposed her, even lawyers present in court faulted her decision. The NBA leadership also said that the sentencing of Inibehe Effiong did not follow due process,” a judicial worker told SaharaReporters. 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Olumide Akpata, on Wednesday, picked holes in the procedure adopted by Obot in jailing the lawyer. 

He also said the association may petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) to sanction the Chief Judge over her action.

“Regardless of the conduct of Mr. Effiong in the courtroom on the date of the proceedings that led to his committal, one thing that has come out from the various accounts that the NBA has so far received is that Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot did not follow due process in the committal proceedings,” Akpata tweeted via his Twitter handle on Wednesday. 

The NBA president cited denial of fair hearing among the breaches allegedly committed by the judge in sending Effiong to prison. 

“Mr. Effiong was not put in the dock, told what his wrong or contempt was, given fair hearing or even an opportunity to recant or purge himself (a courtesy that the Bench should, at the minimum, extend to counsel where counsel’s conduct is said to be contemptuous). 

“This, on its face, not only runs afoul of known practice and procedure in such cases but is also unconstitutional. 

“In view of the foregoing and depending on the outcome of our ongoing investigations, the NBA may be forced to take this matter up with the National Judicial Council.” 


A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Saviour Imukudo, who was in the courtroom in Uyo said Obot earlier ordered him to leave the courtroom before ordering that Effiong should be arrested by the police and taken to prison. 

According to his account in the form of a reporter’s diary published by PREMIUM TIMES, Imukudo said the judge said loudly as she entered the courtroom, “I am coming in anger today. I will not tolerate any nonsense from anybody.” 

He said the judge later asked him to identify himself in the courtroom when the proceedings started. 

He said he introduced himself as a reporter with the PREMIUM TIMES, and then Justice Obot ordered him to leave the courtroom. 

As he was walking out of the courtroom, the judge ordered a police officer to search him, confiscate his phone and detain him. 

“Justice Obot stepped in around 10 a.m. and instructed her police orderly to bring two police officers into the court,” he said.  

“The two officers, armed with AK47 rifles, came in and sat inside the court. The judge sat down and asked the counsels to call their cases. The atmosphere inside the courtroom by now was tense. 

“Samuel Ikpo, the claimant’s counsel, announced his appearance with a female lawyer, while Inibehe Effiong, counsel for the defendant, appeared with Augustine Asuquo. 

“The day was for the cross-examination of the claimant witness, Richard Peters, a priest with the African Church and a media aide to Governor Emmanuel. Mr Peters mounted the witness box. He took an oath. 

“The oath administrator requested that any other witness in the matter should leave the courtroom. Nobody went out. There was silence in the courtroom. 

“The defence counsel, Mr Effiong, drew the court’s attention to his pending applications for the judge to recuse herself from the case because of alleged bias or the likelihood of bias. 

“The judge asked if the applications were properly filed and ripe for hearing. 

“She said the applications would be taken on a different date, and then directed Mr Effiong to proceed on cross-examination of the witness. Mr Effiong pleaded that his application be heard, but the judge said it was her court and that she was the one directing proceedings. 

“From the look on his face, Mr Effiong appeared unhappy. He, however, put up a smile and began by asking the witness, Mr Peters, if he knew the consequences of lying under oath. 

“The lawyer asked the witness if he knew what the offence would be if he lied under oath. Mr Peter said he could not recall, but that, as a Christian, he knew it was not good to lie on oath. 

“Mr Peter said the law should take its course if they found him guilty when Mr Effiong told him he could be prosecuted for perjury if they found out that he lied under oath.” 

Inukudo said “as I was walking out of the courtroom, she commanded a police officer, “Search him well!” 

“The officer found my phone inside my pocket and told the judge that I was recording the proceedings,” he narrated. 

“Seize the phone!” he said the judge commanded the officer following the discovery.  

The journalist said he was ushered out of the court and asked me to sit in a passage.  

“At this point, I did not know what happened inside the courtroom. 

“I was outside when I learned that Justice Obot committed the lawyer, Mr Effiong, to prison.,” he added in his reporter’s diary.