BENIN CITY, Nigeria. August 3, 2022… The Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a human right organisation has called for the immediate release of a lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, who was sent to prison, Wednesday morning, by the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot.
Executive Director of ANEEJ, the Rev David Ugolor made the call in a reaction to the news that Justice Obot ordered Inibehe to be remanded in jail for one month over what she called “contemptuous and insulting behaviour in court,” describing the action of the CJ as a “travesty” of justice.
According to Rev Ugolor, “the Judge cannot hide under the bidding of the State Governor, Mr. Emmanuel Udom to jail a lawyer in a democracy and expect the whole world to seat back and watch.
“We in ANEEJ demand the immediate release of Mr. Inibehe Effiong now without any further delay. You cannot jail a lawyer who was in court to carry out his statutory responsibilities over trumped up charges,”Ugolor asserted.
Mr. Inibehe Effiong is the Legal Adviser of the African Action Congress, a registered political party in Nigeria. The court which sat in the case of libel by Governor Udom Emmanuel against Mr Leo Ekpenyong, was on its last day for the prosecution to end its case when the judge suddenly remanded the lawyer and rights activist in prison for one month.
Evidence from those in the court room has it that “Mr. Effiong was representing a client against whom the State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, had filed libel charges, only prayed the judge that heavily armed policemen be asked to leave the courtroom, after the same judge had ordered journalists out of the court in what ought to be a public trial.
“The judiciary in Akwa-Ibom State cannot be allowed to collude with the executive arm of government to intimidate a counsel, a human rights activist in the legitimate activity of representing his client in court. For God’s sake, we are in a democracy, not authoritarianism,” Ugolor, himself a human right defender asserted.
“The action of the Akwa-Ibom Chief Judge is reprehensible and totally unacceptable,” Ugolor said and called on the human rights community in Nigeria and all lovers of democracy and rule of law in the country to rise up and defend one of their own in Akwa-Ibom state.