A’Ibom Chief Judge Sentences Human Rights Lawyer to One Month Imprisonment

Okon Bassey

A Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, has been jailed by Akwa Ibom State High Court that sat in Uyo and presided by the State’s Chief Judge, Justice Ekaete Obot, who sentenced him to one month imprisonment for unruly behavior while the court was in session.

Effiong had appeared in the court as counsel for another legal practitioner, one Mr. Leo Ekpenyong that was dragged to the court by the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, over alleged defamation.

Ekpenyong had accused Governor Emmanuel of bribing the Chairman of the 2019 Election Petition Tribunal in the state, Justice W. O. Akanbi with $1.4million to secure victory for Senator Chris Ekpenyong of the PDP against Senator Godswill Akpabio of the APC in respect of Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District’s election.

Justice Obot, after examining the contemptuous acts, ordered that Effiong should use the correctional facility to purge himself of insolence and uncouth acts that tend to bring the court to disrepute.

The court was entertaining the last witness brought by the prosecution counsel, when the convict put up some discouraging attitude.

Problem started when one of the journalists that covered the court was caught recording the session with a video camera of his phone.

The phone was confiscated and the reporter ordered to leave the courtroom by the judge.

However, Effiong insisted that the judge should rule on a motion he had earlier moved that the judge should recuse self from the case.

But Justice Obot insisted on going on with the case, prompting Effiong to start accusing her of bias and unfair handling of the case.

Yet, despite repeated warnings from the chief judge, Effiong constantly raised his voice against the chief judge alleging that she was taking the matter personal and also queried her decision to send the journalist out of the courtroom.

When the judge ordered Effiong to take off his wig and leave the bar, he also refused and maintained his stance.

The furious judge accused him of overstepping his bounds and promptly sentenced him to 30 days in the Nigeria Correctional Service’s facility.

Speaking on the decision of the court, Counsel to the Plaintiff, Samuel Ikpo, said he was shocked that a lawyer could utter such damning and profane utterances against a judge.

Ikpo said: “I believe that when he comes out of the correctional facility, he will learn how to conduct himself before a court.

“A lawyer should not allow himself to use one client to destroy his reputation before all the judges.

“I think Justice Obot has really been patient with him all these while, even as a lawyer, I could not tolerate the young lawyer’s conduct.”

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