Legal Nigeria

‘Contempt’: Jailed Lagos lawyer to be freed soon, says NBA

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Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday began a probe of the circumstances surrounding the jailing of a Lagos-based lawyer Inibehe Effiong by the Chief Judge of Akwa State, Justice Ekaette Obot.
Its President Olumide Akpata who ordered the investigation said efforts were underway to ensure that Effiong is released soon.

Justice Obot on Wednesday sentenced the Lagos-based activist-lawyer to one-month imprisonment for alleged contempt.

The judge made the order during proceedings in the case of alleged libel instituted by Akwa Ibom State Governor Mr. Udom Emmanuel against Mr. Leo Ekpenyong, who is Effiong’s client.

But Effiong claimed he was an innocent victim of unjustified exercise of power, and that the judge punished him after he applied that two armed mobile policemen be asked to exit the courtroom.
He said he had asked the Chief Judge to recuse herself from handling the case, on the ground of alleged bias.

Reacting to the incident in a post on his Facebook and Twitter handles, Akpata maintained neutrality.

He warned that the Association would neither accept intimidation or harassment of lawyers nor condone indiscipline and insubordination against judicial officers.

Akpata said: “I received with great concern the news of the detention of one of our members, Inibehe Effiong, at a correctional facility in Akwa Ibom State, on account of what transpired during proceedings in the court of the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State.

“Since receiving this news, I have been in touch with the Chairman of the NBA Uyo Branch who has mobilised his team to look into and address this.

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This morning, I have also mandated the NBA 1st Vice President to visit Uyo immediately to join the ongoing efforts and ensure the release of Mr. Effiong. The NBA is therefore on top of this, and I am confident that Mr. Effiong will regain his freedom shortly.

“While not going into the merits of this particular matter yet, suffice it to say that the NBA is strongly opposed to, and will continue to resist all attempts to intimidate, threaten or harass our members while properly carrying out their professional responsibilities.

“The NBA will also not condone acts of indiscipline and insubordination against judicial officers from our members no matter the provocation. Ours is a rule-based profession and there is a procedure for airing grievances. The NBA 1st Vice President will also conduct fact finding investigation to determine what transpired and recommend next steps.”

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