Chief Judge Imprisons Human Rights Lawyer Over Libel Suit by Gov. Udom Emmanuel

Human Rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong has been imprisoned for one month for defending Leo Ekpenyong in a libel suit filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Udom Emmanuel on Wednesday.

Effiong who was in Uyo just a day after defending the presidential candidate of Action Democratic Congress, Omoyele Sowore in Abuja stated that the action of the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot was unwarranted.

In a series of posts shared on social media, Effiong revealed that on the hearing of the case on Wednesday, he was not comfortable when a Premium Times reporter was sent out of the courtroom and felt unsafe with the armed mobile policemen inside the courtroom and applied for the judge to excuse them but rather, the Judge responded by remanding him in Uyo correctional centre.

“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 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.

The moment My Lord entered the Courtroom, His Lordship ordered the orderly attached to the court to go out and bring the armed policemen inside the courtroom. I started feeling that there was going to be trouble. After the Premium Times reporter was sent out, I raised the issue.

I applied to the Court to ask the armed policemen with AK47s to leave the courtroom, that it was not proper and that I felt extremely unsafe and uncomfortable. My Lord then started writing, I thought it was going to be a ruling on my application to excuse the officers.

Unknown to me, my Lord was writing committal order to send me to Uyo prison. I wasn’t even allowed to say anything. My Lord just ordered me to remove my wig and gown, that I was going to prison.

Meanwhile, we have a pending motion for my Lord to disqualify and recuse himself from the case on grounds of bias or likelihood of bias which.

History will vindicate the just.

We are moving to the prison now. They’re saying that I can’t be jailed in Uyo prison because of COVID protocol and that I have to be in Ikot Ekpene prison until the COVID test. Uyo prison has rejected me. We are going back to the court now for His Lordship to determine where I should be jailed. History will vindicate the just.”

Meanwhile, on July 2nd, Justice Obot threatened to send Mr Effiong to prison when he pleaded with the court to entertain his application which seeks the judge’s withdrawal from the case after his client, Leo Ekpenyong, accused her of bias.

“I will send you out of there now, remove that robe and send you to prison by the time you go to the Court of Appeal and come back. What is this? You are overstepping your bounds,” Justice Obot lashed out at Mr Effiong.

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