Effiong, himself a human rights lawyer, was sentenced to one month imprisonment by the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot on 27 July for alleged contempt. The lawyer was handling a defamation suit before Justice Obot and had objected to the presence of two armed police officers in the court.
He was to serve his term at the Uyo prison, but because of COVID-19, he was taken to Ikot Ekpene where he served for 14 days. Effiong was moved to Uyo prison last Wednesday, where he would serve the rest of his imprisonment.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said it would facilitate Effiong’s appeal against the judgment. It argued that the judge did not comply with established procedures before convicting a contemnor.
In his statement on Friday, Falana said that Effiong had been tortured by correctional centre officials, adding that “the penalty for the offence of inflicting torture on any person in Nigeria is 25 years imprisonment without any option of fine”.
Falana statement reads: “On 27 July 2022, the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Ekaette Obot convicted and sentenced Inibehe Effiong to one month imprisonment for contempt of court in facie curiae. In order to prevent Inibehe from appealing against the conviction and sentence imposed on him the Chief Judge has refused to furnish him with a certified true copy of her judgment in contravention of section 36(7) of the Constitution which prescribes that every convict is entitled to a copy of the judgment of the court that tried and convicted him.
“However. the warrant signed by the Judge directed that the Effiong be held in Ikot Ekpene Correctional Centre, Akwa Ibom throughout the duration of his prison term. But the order of the Court was secretly varied today as Inibehe was forcefully transferred to Uyo Correctional Centre in handcuffs even though there was no violence on his part. At the Uyo Correctional Centre, Inibehe was forced to sit on bare floor while his head was shaved together with his beard. He was thereafter subjected to more horrendous humiliation and paraded before all prison 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”.