The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has threatened to drag the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot before the National Judicial Council, NJC, for sentencing human rights activist, Mr. Inibehe Effiong to prison.
Justice Obot, had on July 27, 2022, sentenced the lawyer to one month imprisonment over alleged contempt, a development which has put the NBA on the edge.
NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, in a statement on Wednesday, said: “Last week, I provided an update on the efforts being made by the NBA, towards securing the release of our colleague, Mr. Effiong, who was remanded in custody on the order of the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State on account of alleged contemptuous conduct in Her Lordship’s court.
“Unfortunately, attempts to secure Mr. Effiong’s release through sustained engagements at different levels have been unsuccessful with the Chief Judge indicating that she was unwilling or unable to further entertain the matter.
“In the circumstance, the NBA is left with no choice but to work on an appeal against the decision of Her Lordship, and I have instructed the NBA team to work with Mr. Effiong on an immediate appeal. This is not the outcome that we had expected because there is a high chance that Mr. Effiong would serve out his one-month custodial term before the end of the appeal.
“Regardless of the conduct of Mr. Effiong in the courtroom on the date of the proceedings that led to his committal, one thing that has come out from the various accounts that the NBA has so far received is that Justice Obot did not follow due process in the committal proceedings.
“Mr. Effiong was not put in the dock, told what his wrong or contempt was, given fair hearing or even an opportunity to recant or purge himself (a courtesy that the Bench should, at the minimum, extend to counsel where counsel’s conduct is said to be contemptuous).
“This on its face not only runs afoul of known practice and procedure in such cases but is also unconstitutional. In view of the foregoing and depending on the outcome of our ongoing investigations, the NBA may be forced to take this matter up with the NJC,” he said.