Corruption and Underdevelopment

Falana, Fusika, others sue A’Ibom CJ over Effiong’s imprisonment

By Paul Michael

A group of lawyers led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana, and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN, has dragged the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Justice Ekaette Obot before the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of incarcerated human rights activist, Inibehe Effiong.

Justice Obot had on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, committed Effiong to the state correctional centre for one month over perceived contempt of court.

Justice Obot justified the conviction warrant by saying she had run out of patience with the excesses and unruly behaviours of the embattled lawyer who was the defence counsel to Leo Ekpenyong in an ongoing case.

Stating the reason for his conviction, Effiong said on Twitter, “The Chief Judge of Akwa Akwa Ibom ordered a Premium Times reporter to leave the court. I said my lord, we were thinking that since the proceeding is public, members of the public should be allowed to observe the proceeding. My Lord asked me to proceed with cross-examination.

“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to say anything before the “conviction”. Two lawyers in the court appealed to the Hon. Chief Judge but my Lord insisted that I must be jailed.”

Falana, Fusika, others sue A'Ibom CJ over Effiong's imprisonment
Falana, Fusika, others sue A’Ibom CJ over Effiong’s imprisonment

Meanwhile, there were indications last week that Effiong is being manhandled by prison officials as his beards were alleged to have been forcefully shaved.

However, the Akwa Ibom Command of the Nigeria Correctional Service said Effiong was duly informed and he also obliged before his beards were shaved, saying it was done for security precaution in the interest of the lawyer.

“On arrival at Uyo, he was duly admitted into the facility and was also informed of the need to cut his hair and beards as a security measure as well as a routine practice in the facility,” a spokesperson for the command, Richard Meeting said in a statement.

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Reacting to the development, Falana berated the prison officials for torturing Effiong while threatening to sue them for the enforcement of his human rights.

According to an Originating Processes shown to new men on Monday in Uyo, the legal team which includes Femi Falana SAN, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN, John Aikpokpo-Martins Esq, Monday Ubani Esq, Olukunle Edun, Funmi Falana Esq, Femi Adeborisade Esq, Nsisak Akai, Augustine Asuquo, E.E. Philip, and Joseph Eleh, said it was illegal and unconstitutional for the respondent to deny Effiong access to a copy of the judgement after seven days of the conclusion of the case.

In the Application marked FHC/117/FHn/170/22 BETWEEN: Inibehe Effiong and Honourable Justice Ekaette Fabian Obot, the Applicant through his Counsel prayed the Court for three reliefs:

“A Declaration that the Applicant who was jailed on the 27th of July on the account of contempt of court is entitled to a copy of the judgement within seven days of the conclusion of the case.

Adeyinka Olumide Fusika

“A Declaration that the refusal of the respondent to make available a copy of her judgement to the Applicant since 27th of July, 2022 despite repeated applications is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 36(7) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic, 1999 as amended.

“An Order directing the Respondent with a copy of the judgement on July 27th forthwith.”

At the time of filing this report, a date is yet to be slated for a hearing.

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