By Jonathan Ugbal
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Policy Alert, a Civil Society Organisation in Akwa Ibom State has launched a petition on change.org to ensure the release of rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong who was on Wednesday remanded in prison for alleged contempt by the Chief Judge of the High Court of the State, Justice Ekaette Obot while raising concern for the presence of armed Policemen in Court.
Tagged: “Free Inibehe Effiong Now,” the petition has garnered 502 signatures in 48 hours, the CSO said Mr. Effiong was not given a fair hearing, hence, he is unlawfully incarcerated.
“The detained activist has been an intrepid voice against human rights violations by State actors, and the circumstances of the case and his incarceration point to an agenda against human rights defenders,” Policy Alert said in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Mr. Tijah Bolton-Akpan, adding that: “Nigeria’s judiciary should be the last hope of the common, rather than the instrument for intimidation and erosion of civic space that it is fast becoming.”
Meanwhile, following the promise by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Olumide Akpata Esq. that Mr. Effiong will be released shortly, the NBA’s first vice president, John Aikpokpo Esq, arrived in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital to ensure the matter is sorted where he met with the Uyo branch of the NBA during their monthly general meeting on Friday.
A source said Mr. Effiong’s matter was a heated debate with some senior lawyers claiming he was unruly and insisting that Mr. Effiong was not a member of the Uyo branch. This was however argued by Mr. Aikpokpo, who said the NBA was one. The effort of Mr. Effiong’s colleague, Augustine Asuquo Esq, to state the facts that transpired in Court was shouted down by several senior lawyers.
Mr. Aikpokpo later took some senior members of the bar to visit the Chief Judge, of which Mr. Effiong’s colleague was not among. As of press time, it remained unclear whether they have visited Mr. Effiong at the Ikot Ekpene medium security custodial centre where he is incarcerated.
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