Sunday, August 14, 2022

NBA sends vice-president to Uyo for urgent release of jailed rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong 

Mr Effiong was committed to prison by Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot, following a disagreement over arm-bearing by police officers inside courtroom.

• July 28, 2022
Ini Effiong and Judge Ekaette Obot
Ini Effiong and Judge Ekaette Obot

President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata on Thursday said attempts to intimidate lawyers would be resisted. He also assured that human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong would regain his freedom shortly as efforts to secure his release are ongoing. 

Mr Akpata through a statement on his Facebook page disclosed that he has directed the Vice President of the NBA to collaborate with the Uyo chapter of the association to secure Mr Effiong’s release. 

“Since receiving this news, I have been in touch with the Chairman of the NBA Uyo Branch who has mobilised his team to look into and address this. This morning, I have also mandated the NBA 1st Vice President to visit Uyo immediately to join the ongoing efforts and ensure the release of Mr. Effiong. The NBA is therefore on top of this, and I am confident that Mr. Effiong will regain his freedom shortly. 

“While not going into the merits of this particular matter yet, suffice it to say that the NBA is strongly opposed to, and will continue to resist all attempts to intimidate, threaten or harass our members while properly carrying out their professional responsibilities,” Mr Akpata said in a statement. 

“The NBA will also not condone acts of indiscipline and insubordination against judicial officers from our members no matter the provocation. Ours is a rule-based profession and there is a procedure for airing grievances. The NBA 1st Vice President will also conduct a fact finding investigation to determine what transpired and recommend next steps,” he added. 

On Wednesday, Mr Effiong was committed to prison by Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot, for alleged contempt. His conviction was without a fair hearing and unwarranted, according to statements he posted on his social media pages. 

“Unknown to me, my Lord was writing a 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,” Mr Effiong tweeted. 

Public analysts are describing Ms Obot’s decision as “judicial rascality.” Writer and observer Richard Akinola says the decision cannot stand the test of appeal. 

Demands have intensified across Nigeria for Mr Effiong’s release. Another rights lawyer Kayode Ajulo condemned the incident as an attack on members of the Nigerian bar. But others said lawyers should hold judges with respect in order to avoid summary confinements.

Mrs Obot was accused of holding grudges against Mr Effiong, who had made appearances before the court on the defamation case involving Governor Udom Emmanuel. The Nigerian Judicial Council did not return a request seeking comments about ongoing efforts to free Mr Effiong.

A spokesman for Mr Emmanuel denied the governor’s ties to Mr Effiong’s detention at the correctional facility in Ukot Ekpene.

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