Civic Space: Groups Condemn Remand Of Rights Lawyer By Akwa Ibom Chief Judge, Demand His Release

In Breaking News, Civic Space, CrossRiverWatch TV, Podcast, Reports

By CrossRiverWatch Admin

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Civic space actors, political and civil society groups have condemned the remand in prison of Inibehe Effiong, a rights’ lawyer, for one month by the Chief Judge of the High Court of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot for alleged contempt.

Among them includes the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP; African Action Congress, AAC, and the Citizens Solutions Network.

SERAP in a tweet, asked Governor Udom to order the release of the unlawfully detained lawyer.

“Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel must immediately and unconditionally release lawyer Inibehe Effiong, who has reportedly been sent to Uyo prison while in Court representing his client against the governor.” the group said, adding that; “We will see in court if Effiong is not immediately released.”

On its part, the AAC demanded that a disciplinary action be taken against Justice Obot for what it described as reckless abuse of judicial authority and desecration of what ought to be the hallowed temple of justice, even as the party said the Judge was acting on the script of Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State.

“The action of the Chief Judge acting the script of the tyrant Governor against a lawyer in the legitimate pursuit of his duties is pure judicial rascality, judicial shamelessness and judicial recklessness. It is a fruitless conspiratorial attempt to intimidate a counsel, a fighter of human rights in the legitimate activity of representing his client,” read part of the statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Femi Adeyeye, wherein he demanded the immediate release of the lawyer from detention, failure of which, the party warned that it would carry out a mass action.

Meanwhile, a statement signed by the Country Director of Citizens Solutions Network, Richard Inoyo said this should be the last time such is happening and sought the judiciary to call the Judge to order.

“At this point, we at Citizens’ Solution Network wish to call on the National Judicial Council, to call Justice Ekaette Obot to order and demand that she does not abuse her privileges and office any further,” the statement read.

Reports suggest that Effiong who was defending Leo Ekpenyong, the defendant in suit number HU/279/2019 had asked Justice Obot to recuse herself from further hearing or presiding over the proceedings of the case on the grounds of fair hearing.

The complainant in the case is Deacon Emmanuel Gabriel Udom, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State. And, Mr. Efffiong’s application was for the cas to be heard ‘De Novo’ and hinged his argument that the Court has breached Constitutional Provisions in its December 15, 2020 ruling when it asked Mr. Ekpenyong to pay 1.5 Billion Naira to the Governor as damages for alleged libel.

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