The chain of events that led to the one-month incarceration of a young Human Rights Activist Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, in two of Nigeria’s pitiable, inhumane and dehumanising correctional centres, are bizarre and hard to believe.
Inibehe Effiong went to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, to defend a client before the Chief Judge’s Court, in a case of defamation allegedly against the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, but instead he began a nightmarish journey to the dungeons of Ikot Ekpene and Uyo Correctional Centres. He narrated his harrowing ordeal to Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi last weekend
The CJ of Akwa Ibom State said you were disrespectful to the court and unruly, and committed you for contempt. What really transpired that day? What exactly was the contemptuous conduct you were accused of?
I arrived at the court early on July 27, 2022 along with my colleague, Augustine Asuquo Esq, to defend my client, Mr Leo Ekpenyong, who is also a legal practitioner, in a libel suit filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Udom Emmanuel, over a certain publication in an online medium which my client has vehemently denied responsibility. I waited for the arrival of the trial Judge, His Lordship, Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State. At about 10am, my lord entered the courtroom, and immediately and furiously, ordered his orderly to bring in the policemen. The proceeding of the day could not commence, because my lord did not call for appearances until the policemen had arrived. Soon afterwards, the orderly arrived in company of two stern looking mobile policemen. Both of them carried AK47 rifles. They sat behind me, one to my right and the other to my left. My lord, at that point, announced that his lordship was coming in with anger and that my lord was not going to tolerate nonsense from anybody. The courtroom was extremely tense. His lordship ordered the Governor’s witness to enter the witness box, for continuation of cross-examination. I stood up and reminded the court of our pending motion for recusal which we filed since June 23, 2022, but was repeatedly not taken. As usual, my lord ordered me to proceed with the cross- examination, and insisted that the recusal motion would be taken when the court deems fit. I did not argue.
I started cross-examining the witness. I was on the third question when his lordship Read More
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