Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Ekaette Obot has sentenced a human right lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to one month imprisonment over perceived contempt of court.
Effiong who alleged in a Twitter thread on Wednesday, said the judge sent him to prison when he came to court to defend Leo Ekpenyong, a lawyer, in a libel suit filed by Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom.
TheFact Daily reports that Udom Emmanuel had sued Ekpenyong for defamation of character over a publication in which he accused the governor of buying judgment from the 2019 National Assembly Election Tribunal.
According to Effiong, “The Chief Judge of 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 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 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.”
“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 Justice will vindicate the just.
“Unknown to me, my Lord was writing committal order to send me to Uyo prison. I wasn’t even given the opportunity to say anything. My Lord just ordered me to remove my wig and gown, that I was going to prison.
“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.
“They’re saying that I can’t be jailed in Uyo prison because of COVID protocol, that I have to be in Ikot Ekpene prison. 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,” he tweeted.