The presidential candidate of the African Action Alliance (AAC), Omoyele Sowore, has condemned the imprisonment of popular human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, over alleged contempt of court.
Naija News earlier reported that the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, on Wednesday, sentenced Effiong to prison for defending a journalist.
In a series of tweets via his Twitter handle, Effiong said Justice Obot sent him to Uyo prison for one month for defending Leo Ekpenyong in a libel suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
He said Obot who allowed armed policemen wielding AK-47 rifles into the courtroom threatened to jail him for accusing her of being biased and asking her to recuse herself from the case.
Effiong said that two lawyers in the court appealed to Justice Obot, but the Chief Judge insisted that the Lagos-based lawyer must be jailed.
Reacting to the development in a Twitter post on Wednesday, Sowore described the imprisonment of the Abuja-based lawyer as despicable.
The AAC presidential candidate, however, called for the immediate release of the human rights lawyer.
He wrote: “It has come to my attention that a Chief Judge of High Court, Akwa Ibom just summarily sentenced rights lawyer, @InibeheEffiong for a month for doing his legal duties defending an individual that allegedly defamed Gov. @MrUdomEmmanuel. This act is despicable #FreeInibehe NOW!”
It has come to my attention that a Chief Judge of High Court , Akwa ibom just summarily sentenced rights lawyer, @InibeheEffiong for month for doing his legal duties defending an individual that allegedly defamed Gov. @MrUdomEmmanuel . This act is despicable #FreeInibehe NOW! pic.twitter.com/2anKu3ca3x
— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) July 27, 2022
Akwa Ibom Governor Sues Lawyer Over Alleged Defamation
Governor Emmanuel had sued Ekpenyong for defamation of character over a publication in which he accused the governor of “buying judgment” from the 2019 National Assembly Election Tribunal.
In a motion on notice filed by Ekpenyong’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, he had asked Justice Obot to reassign the case to a neutral judge.
He accused the Chief Justice of impunity, bias and violation of the code of conduct.
Justice Obot in 2021 lashed out at the defence lawyer, Effiong, who said the court had breached the Nigerian Constitution in its December 15, 2020 judgment against his client, Leo Ekpenyong.
The court on December 15, 2020, ordered the defendant to pay N1.5 billion to the governor as general damages for libel.
Effiong however challenged the judgement and one other involving a former senator, Effiong Bob and successfully persuaded the court to set them aside.
Effiong, who urged the court to give priority to his application for an extension of time, had cited the Supreme Court’s position on the matter.
The judge, however, refused Effiong’s application, saying that preliminary objections are taken first in every proceeding, especially when it touches on jurisdiction.