Inibehe Effiong, a human rights lawyer sent to jail for contempt of court by Justice Ekaette Obot, the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, has regained freedom, saying he is bank stronger and determined to fight oppressors.
“I am back, stronger and more determined to confront the forces of oppression and to continue to speak nothing but the hard truth to the faces of the oppressors of our people. I feel sorry for those who thought they can break my spirit by incarcerating me,” Effiong wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Effiong, who is the defence counsel in the case of libel by Governor Udom Emmanuel against Leo Ekpenyong was taken to prison on July 27, 2022, on the order of Justice Obot.
He had in a video alerted the public, “I have just been sent to Uyo prison by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, for one month for defending Leo Ekpenyong in the libel suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel.
“The Chief Judge of Akwa Akwa Ibom ordered a Premium Times reporter to leave the court. I said my lord, we were thinking that since the proceeding is public, members of the public should be allowed to observe the proceeding. My Lord asked me to proceed with cross-examination.”
“I obeyed. I informed the court that I was not feeling comfortable and safe having two armed mobile policemen seated inside the courtroom, that it was strange and that I felt unsafe. I applied for the judge to excuse the armed policemen from the courtroom.”
“The Hon. Chief Judge then ordered me to step out of the Bar, that she was sending me to prison. She then ordered the policemen to take me to Uyo prison. And that I should be in jail for one month. I am waiting inside the courtroom for them to bring the conviction warrant.
“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to say anything before the “conviction”. Two lawyers in the court appealed to the Hon. Chief Judge, but my Lord insisted that I must be jailed.
Other reports on the issue had it that Barr Effiong constantly accused the Judge of being biased despite repeated warnings from the State Chief Judge, asking her to recuse herself from handling the case.
Since his detention, Nigerians have mounted a campaign on social media for his release under #Free Barrister Inibehe.