The Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community has joined in the numerous calls for the timely release of Barrister Inibehe Effiong, who had been sentenced to 30 days jail term for contempt of court.
Effiong, the defense counsel in the libel suit instituted by the governor, Udom Emmanuel, and Senator Effiong Bob against Leo Ekpenyong, was sentenced Wednesday, July 27, 2022, by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot.
The National Coordinator of the group, Barrister Clifford Thomas, in a statement on Monday, in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state, frowned at the CJ’s summary decision to jail the lawyer, adding that his group was working with the Nigeria Bar Association and other concerned Civil Society Organisations to step up reconciliatory efforts towards his release.
He said, “We have resolved that we should adopt a middle-of-the-road approach to see how best to placate the situation without necessarily widening the chasm further. Every court globally have standard operating procedures, and all advocates appearing must follow them.
“We call on all who intend to intervene in this matter to exercise restraint. This matter is very sensitive, and the best approach would be a reconciliatory approach. There would appear to be rights on all sides, but caution is necessary.
“Sadly, we feel strongly that advocacy by lawyers in Akwa Ibom state would be greatly impacted. Lawyers may no longer feel very free to do their advocacy freely. A precedent has been set, and human rights advocates may end up becoming victims of the process May God help the legal profession.”
He warned against allowing armed security officers to bear arms in the court sessions as this could spell danger and instill fear in the minds of lawyers to suppress their advocacies.