Adegboruwa Calls For Investigation Of Alleged Torture Against Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa has called for the investiagtion of the reported torture of human rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong by prison officials in Akwa Ibom.

Effiong is serving a one-month prison term for contempt of court. The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom,
Ekaette Obot, had handed down the sentence to Effiong.

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Reacting through a statement, Adegboruwa said, “On July 26, 2022, the whole nation was shocked with the news of the reported conviction of lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, by the Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State for alleged contempt of court. He was subsequently transferred to the Correctional Centre in Ikot-Ekpene, where he was remanded. This happened at the time of the annual long vacation of courts all over Nigeria, which has affected the process of securing immediate respite for him, legally.

“For all who have followed the activities of Mr. Inibehe Effiong, he has been at the forefront of the campaign for transparency and good governance in Akwa Ibom, his home State and he has been a constant opponent of corruption and corrupt practices especially by officers of the government of Akwa Ibom State. The court case he took up is an offshoot of the spirited efforts of Mr. Inibehe Effiong to rid Akwa Ibom State of all forms of impunity and dictatorship. He accepted to defend a libel suit filed by the Governor of the State against a blogger in respect of certain allegations of corruption in relation to election cases.

“I have waited to be able to have access to the record of proceedings of the Akwa Ibom State High Court of July 27, 2022, when Mr. Inibehe Effiong was convicted in order to have the opportunity of a first hand advantage of the official narration of the events of that day, but this has not been forthcoming. I am personally worried that the lawful professional assignment of prosecution or defence of any cause on behalf of the client is leading to the conviction of a legal practitioner, especially in the circumstances of what has so far been reported.

“Although I am an advocate of mutual cooperation between the Bar and the Bench resulting from due deference to all judicial officers, the fact that the record of proceedings of such a short hearing cannot be made public up till now would seem to lend credence to the allegations of bias and high handedness on the part of the Honoruable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, for which we all expect the relevant authorities having jurisdiction over My Lord to intervene.

“The conduct of the officers of the Uyo Correctional Centre who were reported to have forcefully shaved off Mr. Effiong’s beards whilst also parading him before other inmates is totally unacceptable. Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled, under the Constitution, to freedom from all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment, freedom from torture and acts of dehumanization. I call on the relevant authorities to investigate this and bring the culprits to book.

“While we all await the steps being taken by the Nigerian Bar Association on this case, I call upon the government of Akwa Ibom State to accord all citizens the opportunity for the expression and enforcement of their fundamental rights. In this regard, Nigerians will hold the federal and Akwa Ibom State governments accountable should anything happen to Mr Effiong whilst he is custody”.

 

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