Barristers & Solicitors
Imprisonment: A’Ibom CJ’s action to intimidate lawyers -CSOs
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-27 at 12.10.13 PM

The Coalition of Civil Society Organisations in Nigeria in conjunction with friends of the Akwa Ibom-based human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, on Thursday protested his continued incarceration and called for his immediate and unconditional release.

Effiong was sentenced to 30 days in prison by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, on July, 27, 2022 for contempt of court.

The spokesperson for the coalition, Comrade Enefaa Georgewill, while speaking with newsmen before the protest in Uyo, the state capital, said the CJ’s action was an attempt to intimidate lawyers, so as to silence them anytime they had a case against any powerful individual in society.

According to him, “We are calling on the CJ to reverse herself; we are demanding the immediate release of Inibehe Effiong, and we are equally calling on lawyers and litigants not to stand and watch.

“This is a ploy to intimidate lawyers, so that they will not be able to speak. So that when you have any case against the rich, a governor, or anybody in power, you will be scared. So, this fight is not just about Inibehe. It is the fight for the soul of democracy.”

He condemned the way and manner the lawyer was committed to prison, adding that from the accounts of what happened, the CJ acted based on premeditation.

“We as civil society believe in the sanctity of the court and we equally believe that only justice can pave the way for any democratic society. But in the specific case of Inibehe, the way and manner he was sent to prison speak doom for the hallowed court.

“The NBA had previously said that assuming but not conceding that Inibehe was even wrong, due process was not followed in his case.

“From all the accounts we have had from both parties, especially the media that was there, clearly, what happened was premeditated. In our years of going to court, the only time you see a policeman as an orderly of the judge who stands behind the judge, not armed but at times with a short pistol. But on that fateful day, two mobile policemen with AK-47 were inside the court; this shows that all of these things were planned.”

Also speaking, the Coordinator, Coalition of Friends, Family, Colleagues For Inibehe Effiong, Mr Jonathan Abang-Ugal, said though they had heard different perspectives of what transpired, their concern was for Inibehe Effiong to be released as the judiciary would go on vacation as from tomorrow (Friday).

He said, “Our concern now is for our friend and colleague, Inibehe Effiong, to be released.”

In his remarks, a journalist and activist, Mr Ofonime Honesty, expressed disappointment with the former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, SAN, whom he claimed had labelled the group as miscreants for protesting for the release of Effiong.

He said peaceful protest was enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adding that by protesting, they were not in any way bullying the court.

“I am the convener of the rights group called Citizens Liberation Movement. This is the second protest and by doing this we are not bullying the court. We are only asking for the release of Inibehe Effiong. I wish to react to the trending video clip released by the former Attorney General, where he described us as miscreants.

“Peaceful demonstration is enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria. He labelled us as miscreants and even went ahead to threaten that he would slam allegation of contempt of court against us. We wish to tell him that we are not miscreants in this group, I am a journalist, we have lawyers in this group,” he said.