Contempt: Inibehe Effiong appeals ‘conviction’

Contempt: Inibehe Effiong appeals ‘conviction’
Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer who is currently imprisoned, filed a lawsuit on Friday at the Court of Appeal in Calabar, Cross River State, pleading with the appeal court to overturn its decision to find him in contempt of a state high court in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

On July 27, Effiong received a 30-day prison term for engaging in what the trial judge, Ekaette Obot, called "unruly behaviour."

The chief justice of Akwa Ibom State is Justice Obot.

Femi Falana, the attorney for Effiong, appealed the lower court's ruling and cited nine reasons why he believed Justice Obot erred in convicting and sentencing the appellant.

In a court document that newsmen were able to view, Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, claimed that the facts Justice Obot had cited as "constituting contempt of court" "do not constitute contempt in any material detail."

He said that Justice Obot was the "accuser, the prosecutor, and the judge," which is against Section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, and that Effiong's conviction violated his right to a fair trial.

A Lagos-based attorney named Effiong appeared before Justice Obot to represent his client in a defamation action in which Governor Udom Emmanuel is the plaintiff.

In earlier sessions, Effiong had asked the judge to step aside from the case.

The lawyer objected to the two armed police officers entering the courtroom on the chief judge's order at the hearing on July 27.

According to a court document that was made public when she was sued, Justice Obot sentenced Effiong to 30 days in jail for his "unruly behaviour."

Effiong spent the first two weeks of his sentence in Akwa Ibom State's Ikot Ekpene Custodial Center.

Later, he was moved to the Uyo Custodial Center where he completed the remaining days.

According to reports, prison guards beat the lawyer and scraped his beard and hair.

Many people across the nation have expressed their outrage at Effiong's imprisonment.

In Uyo, a number of organisations have organised demonstrations to demand his release.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has also faulted the procedure adopted by Justice Obot in jailing the lawyer.