Investigate Akwa Ibom Chief Judge, Release Detained Human Rights Lawyer -Rivers C.L.O Urge NJC
C.L.O CALLS FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER INIBEHE EFFIONG ESQ AND URGE THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COMMISSION TO URGENTLY INVESTIGATE THE CHIEF JUDGE OF AKWA IBOM STATE, JUSTICE EKAETTE OBOT
OVER JUDICIAL RECKLESSNESS
July 29, 2022, Port Harcourt
The Civil Liberties Organization demands for the immediate release of human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong Esq who was unjustly sentenced to one month in prison by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State,
Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot on Wednessday, July 27, 2022, during a hearing of a libel suit filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel. The action of the judge which came after the human rights lawyer had expressed unease over the presence
of armed police officers inside the court room is a judicial recklessness that must not go unpunished. It will be recalled that Justice Obot had in late June 2022 threatened to put Inihebe Effiong Esq behind bars for requesting that she recuse herself from the matter over her perceived bias in the suit which resumed for hearing on July 27, 2022.
C.L.O views the action of Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian Obot as an abuse of judicial powers and a clear attempt to intimidate the ‘Bar’ in Akwa Ibom State. The sentencing of Inibehe Effiong Esq to jail reeks of judicial recklessness, oppression, and a misstep to please the governor of Akwa Ibom State who is a principal beneficiary of the judicial embarrassment. It is a known fact that inviting armed policemen into the bowel of the court when the court is not under siege is an invasion of the sacred walls of the court.
While we admit that the power to commit contempt resides in the court when contempt is committed in the face of the court we however state that such power should be exercised with restraint to avoid the court becoming an autocratic entity. The action of the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge is therefore a sad reminder of the rapid autocratization of democratic institutions in the country.
We hereby call on the National Judicial Council (NJC) to properly investigate the incident and ensure that the embarrassment brought upon the Bar and the Bench by the action of the chief judge is addressed without ambiguity. We remind the NJC that failure to respond appropriately portends a grave danger to the entire judicial system as the action of Justice Obot could set a negative precedent for other errant judges. While we await the actions of the NJC and other relevant judicial arms, C.L.O will collaborate with progressive entities to ensure that Inibehe Effiong Esq gets justice.
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