The President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Olumide Akpata has accused the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom state, Justice Ekaette Obot, of not following due process in remanding Mr. Inibehe Effiong in prison.
The judge was said to have remanded Effiong on July 27 for contempt of court.
Giving his own account via his Twitter page on July 27, Effiong stated that the judge sent him to prison for demanding that a police officer should leave the court room for carrying a gun, arguing that it was contrary to the legal profession.
“I applied to the Court to ask the armed policemen with AK47 to leave the courtroom, that it was not proper and that I felt extremely unsafe and uncomfortable. My Lord then started writing, I thought it was going to be a ruling on my application to excuse the officers,” Effiong had tweeted in reaction to the court order against him.
Based on the development, the NBA president had directed his team towards securing the lawyer’s release from prison custody.
Giving further update on Wednesday, Akpata stated that it was obvious that the judge would not listen to his team.
He added that the association’s probe showed that the judge did not comply with judicial provisions in remanding the lawyer.
Akpata stated via his Facebook page that the NBA now has two options against the judge’s decision- to appeal or to petition the National Judicial Council.
“Unfortunately, attempts to secure Mr. Effiong’s release through sustained engagements at different levels have been unsuccessful with the Chief Judge indicating that she was unwilling or unable to further entertain the matter.
“In the circumstance, the NBA is left with no choice but to work on an appeal against the decision of Her Lordship, and I have instructed the NBA team to work with Mr. Effiong on an immediate appeal.
“This is not the outcome that we had expected because there is a high chance that Mr. Effiong would serve out his one-month custodial term before the end of the appeal.
“Regardless of the conduct of Mr. Effiong in the courtroom on the date of the proceedings that led to his committal, one thing that has come out from the various accounts that the NBA has so far received is that Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot did not follow due process in the committal proceedings.
“Mr. Effiong was not put in the dock, told what his wrong or contempt was, given fair hearing or even an opportunity to recant or purge himself (a courtesy that the Bench should, at the minimum, extend to counsel where counsel’s conduct is said to be contemptuous).
“This on its face not only runs afoul of known practice and procedure in such cases but is also unconstitutional.
“In view of the foregoing and depending on the outcome of our ongoing investigations, the NBA may be forced to take this matter up with the National Judicial Council.”