Corruption and Underdevelopment

Effiong regains freedom from prison, urges CJ to release CCTV footage

By Paul Michael

Human Rights Activist and lawyer, Inibehe Effiong has regained freedom from the custody of Nigeria Correctional Centre, Uyo Facility amid a freedom march by his supporters and sympathizers to welcome him.

Inibehe exhausted his one-month committal by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, on Friday. He was seen in a Facebook Live video shared by Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, walking out of the prison facility.

The lawyer was received by supporters after his release and marched with them in their public awareness campaign tagged the ‘March of Freedom’.

In an interview he granted journalists after his release on Friday, 26th August 2022, the human rights lawyer said he had done nothing wrong prior to his arrest for contempt.

“I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

“You know there are two types of Judges, Judge in Heaven and Judge of Conscience, and the Honorable C.J of Akwa Ibom knows I did nothing wrong.

“I only stated that by provisions of the Constitution, courtroom proceedings should be made public, and then, when the CJ disagreed with me, I still insisted on the matter being laid to rest.

“Also, I prayed that the two armed policemen seated by my side as I was to begin cross-examination be sent out of the court, and My Lord refused, but I insisted on making it a formal request before the Court. I think my offence was my persistence,” he added.

He further disclosed that it was at this point that the learned CJ of Akwa Ibom, Hon Justice E. Obot began to write his committal order, asked him to step out of the bar, derobe himself and sentenced him to 1-month imprisonment to “purge himself of contempt”.

Effiong expressed shock and stated that he desired to clear facts now that he was out. He stated that he didn’t point at the CJ or bang the table, that even if he was the most stubborn or insolent lawyer, it granted the CJ no right to attribute things to him and scandalize his name which according to him was to “justify the unjustifiable”.

He urged the CJ to release the CCTV camera footage of her Court to the public so as to prove the facts right, saying he treated the court and the CJ with nothing but reverence.

Effiong stated that he was prepared for his experience in prison.

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“You cannot be a lawyer who fights for the people and not expect to be thrown in prison. It is inevitable,” he said.

According to him, the prison was not a bad experience, all he had to do is adapt. He stated that those who laughed at him when he was incarcerated saying he would be quiet when he comes out will be in for a shock as he was not backing down anytime soon.

He said stepping out of the prison was another experience to solidify him as a lawyer.

While speaking on his exploits in Prison, Effiong stated that he had secured the release of 17 inmates who had no business being in prison and had made provisions to come and defend and secure the release of more inmates. He stated that his experience and the experience of some of his inmates in which the innocents are thrown into jail calls for the revisiting of the Nigerian Criminal Justice System.

“They are oppressed citizens of Nigeria. The Federal Government has abandoned them; the Akwa Ibom Government has abandoned them. Most of them are innocent and not criminals as they tag them,” he noted.

Effiong expressed his thanks to the Olumide Akpata-led administration of the NBA, Femi Falana SAN, and other Lawyers of Conscience who stood by him and fought his conviction.

He assured those that hate him that he was back and louder than ever.

“I pity those that said that when he comes out, he would be silent, the voice they so hate is now louder.”

Effiong was committed to one month in prison for contempt by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, on the 27th of July. His incarceration had since generated controversies and drawn criticism to the judiciary.

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