Akwa Ibom Judge Ekaette Obot angrily jails lawyer Inibehe Effiong for noting presence of armed men in courtroom
Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Ekaette Obot on Monday angrily and abruptly sent human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong to prison for one month after raising observation about the unusual presence of armed police officers in court.
During the hearing of a libel suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel against Leo Ekpenyong, Ms Obot reportedly ordered the lawyer to be sent to prison. Mr Effiong was representing Mr Ekpenyong in the matter.
“The Hon. Chief Judge then ordered me to step out of the Bar, that she was sending me to prison. She then ordered the policemen to take me to Uyo prison. And that I should be in jail for one month. I am waiting inside the courtroom for them to bring the conviction warrant,” Mr Effiong tweeted Wednesday morning.
“The moment My Lord entered the Courtroom, His Lordship ordered the orderly attached to the court to go out and bring the armed policemen inside the courtroom. I started feeling that there was going to be trouble.
“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.”
Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe arguing the matter in the presence of two armed police officers, Mr Effiong requested the operatives be excused from the proceeding.
” I informed the court that I was not feeling comfortable and safe having two armed mobile policemen seated inside the courtroom, that it was strange and that I felt unsafe. I applied for the judge to excuse the armed policemen from the courtroom.”
The judge reportedly responded by sending Mr Effiong out of the courtroom and sentencing him to one month at Uyo prisons, according to Mr Effiong’s account of the incident.
“Unknown to me, my Lord was writing committal order to send me to Uyo prison. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to say anything. My Lord just ordered me to remove my wig and gown, that I was going to prison.
“The Hon. Chief Judge then ordered me to step out of the Bar, that she was sending me to prison. I am waiting inside the courtroom for them to bring the conviction warrant.”
“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even 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,” the human rights lawyer tweeted.
Meanwhile, Mr Effiong stated he had already filed a motion for the judge to recuse herself from the matter “on grounds of bias or likelihood of bias.”
Initial commentators about the controversial development said it marked the latest desecration of the nation’s judiciary that has grown increasingly disturbing under the Buhari regime.
A spokesman for the Nigerian Judicial Council did not immediately return a request seeking comments about the matter.
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