June 24, 2024

Rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, regains freedom


To secure the release of 17 inmates

Etim Ekpimah

Activist and rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong has regained freedom from the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Uyo Facility after 30 days of incarceration.

Effiong was received by streams of supporters after his release and marched with them in their public awareness campaign tagged, “The March of freedom.”

He told journalists and his supporters after his release on Friday, 26t August 2022 that he did not do anything wrong prior to his arrest for contempt.

Effiong said: “Let us not be mistaken, I never at any time pointed my hand at the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, I never at any time bounced on any table, I never at any time shouted at the court. These accusations only came to me while I was in incarceration.

“Deception and lie may prevail for a while; there are two judges that no man can defeat – the judge of Heavens and the judge of conscience.

“The Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, whom I respect, knows in her conscience that I never disrespected the court; all I did on the 27th of July 2022 when I announced my appearance along with my colleague Augustine to defend my client, Leo Ekpenyong, was simply to raise two fundamental observations.

“I only stated that by provisions of the constitution that courtroom proceedings should be made public and then when the CJ disagreed with me, I still insisted on the matter before it was laid to rest. Also, I prayed that the two armed policemen with AK 47 sitting by my side as I was to begin cross-examination be sent out of the court, and My Lord refused, but I insisted on making it a formal request before the court. I think my offence was my persistence.”

According to Inibihe Effiong, it was at this point that the learned CJ of Akwa Ibom, Hon. Justice E. Obot began to write his committal order, asked him to step out of the bar, derobe himself and sentenced him to one-month imprisonment to “purge himself of contempt”.

Effiong expressed how shocked he was, and stated that he desired to clear facts now that he was out. He stated that he didn’t at any point at the CJ or bang the table, that even if he was the most stubborn or insolent lawyer, it granted the CJ no right to attribute things to him and scandalize his name which according to him was to ‘justify the unjustifiable”.

He urged the learned CJ to release the CCTV camera footage of her court to the public to prove the facts right, as he treated the court with nothing but reverence, including the CJ.

On his experience in prison, Effiong stated that he was prepared. “You cannot be a lawyer who fights for the people and not expect to be thrown in prison. It is inevitable” he said.

According to him, prison was not a bad experience, all he had to do is adapt. He stated that those who laughed at him when he was incarcerated saying he would be quiet when he comes out would be in for a shock as he was not backing down anytime soon. He added that the prison experience was another experience to solidify him as a lawyer.

Effiong said that he had secured the release of 17 inmates who had no business being in prison and has made provisions to come and defend and secure the release of more inmates.

According to him, his experience and the experience of some of his inmates in which the innocents are thrown into jail calls for the revisiting of the Nigerian Criminal Justice System.

“They are oppressed citizens of Nigeria. The Federal Government has abandoned them, the Akwa Ibom Government has abandoned them. Most of them are innocent and not criminals as they tag them”, Effiong said about inmates.

He, however, thanks Olumide Akpta-led administration of the NBA, Femi Falana SAN, and other lawyers of conscience who stood by him and fought his conviction.

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