A human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who was jailed by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, has been freed after one-month imprisonment.
Announcing his release on Friday in a Facebook post, Effiong said that “oppressors” can’t break his spirit with imprisonment.
The Lagos-based lawyer had been handling a case for his client before Justice Obot’s court in Uyo.
His client, Leo Ekpenyong was facing a libel suit filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom, Mr Udom Emmanuel .
As he headed to the Uyo Correctional Centre on 27 July, Effiong posted details of the incident on his Twitter page: “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, that members of the public should be allowed to observe the proceeding’. My Lord asked me to proceed with cross examination.
“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even given an opportunity to say anything before the ‘conviction’. Two lawyers in court appealed to the Hon. Chief Judge but my Lord insisted that I must be jailed.
“This is in the suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel against a lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong, for alleged defamation”, Effiong said.
The judge had sentenced the lawyer to the Ikot Ekpene Correctional Centre but he was reportedly moved to the Uyo Correctional Centre instead.
Upon his release from the Correctional Centre on Friday, Effiong wrote: “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”.
On August 17, a senior lawyer, Femi Falana SAN filed a suit against Justice Obot over the alleged violation of Effiong’s fundamental rights.
Falana had also protested the “horrendous humiliation” meted out to his client before inmates.
“The brutal torture meted out to Inibehe by the prison officials in Akwa Ibom State constitutes a violent violation of his fundamental right to dignity guaranteed by section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
“It is painful to note that the unprovoked violence unleashed on Inibehe is a sad reminder of the case of Minere Amakiri, then a reporter with Nigerian Observer, the old Bendel State owned newspapers whose head was shaved with a broken bottle in 1973 on the orders of Alfred Diette-Spiff, the then Military governor of the State.
“Apart from challenging the egregious infringement of the fundamental right of Inibehe to the dignity of his person and fair hearing we shall press for the prosecution of the officials who inflicted torture on him contrary to the provision of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act of 2017. The penalty for the offence of inflicting torture on any person in Nigeria is 25 years imprisonment without any option of fine”, Falana said.