Nigeria: Inibehe Effiong’s Conviction Travesty of Justice – Amnesty International

The advocacy group called on Nigerian authorities to immediately release the incarcerated lawyer and drop all charges against him.

Amnesty International Nigeria has described as a travesty of justice, the committal of a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to prison by the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Ekaette Obot.

The advocacy group called on Nigerian authorities to immediately release the incarcerated lawyer and drop all charges against him.

Mr Effiong was on 27 July sentenced to 30 days imprisonment over what Mrs Obot described as “unruly behaviour” after the young lawyer objected to the presence of armed police operatives in court.

Amnesty, in a message posted on Twitter on Tuesday, said the committal process was bereft of due process.

“The entire process was a travesty of justice and direct affront on his lawful professional duty as a lawyer.”

Minutes before Mr Effiong was committed to prison, Mrs Obot had ordered a police officer to confiscate the phone of a PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Saviour Imukudo, who was covering the court proceedings.

Mr Imukudo was subsequently detained on Mrs Obot’s order and taken to a nearby police station, where he wrote a statement to the police.

The reporter was doing a discrete audio recording of the court proceedings, which he said was to ensure accuracy in his report.

The audio file was later deleted as demanded by Mrs Obot before the reporter was released and his phone returned to him.

Amnesty also condemned the judge’s action, saying it was fair for journalists to record court proceedings and report to the public.

“The right to fair and public hearing must be observed at every turn during judicial proceedings. This includes access to the courts and by extension to journalists who wish to observe, record, report and disseminate court proceedings for the public.”

Background

Mr Effiong, a Lagos-based lawyer, was at Mrs Obot’s court to defend his client in a defamation case in which Governor Udom Emmanuel is the claimant.

Mr Effiong had in previous proceedings requested the judge to recuse herself from the case.

The lawyer on the 27 July hearing objected to the presence of two armed police operatives who were brought into the court on the order of the chief judge.

In court proceedings released after she was sued, Mrs Obot said, she committed Mr Effiong to 30 days imprisonment for his “unruly behaviour.”

Mr Effiong served the first two weeks of his sentence at Ikot Ekpene Custodial Centre in Akwa Ibom State.

He was later transferred to Uyo Custodial Centre to serve the remaining days.

The lawyer was reportedly abused by prison officials who scraped his hair and beard.

The lawyer’s incarceration has attracted condemnation across the country.

Several groups have staged protests in Uyo, calling for his release.

The Nigerian Bar Association and the Nigeria Labour Union have also faulted the procedure adopted by Mrs Obot in jailing the lawyer.

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