NBA threatens to report judge who sentenced lawyer Inibehe Effiong to NJC

Rights lawyer Inibehe Effiong

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said it may escalate the “unconstitutional” proceedings that led to the sentencing of lawyer Inibehe Effiong by Akwa Ibom Chief Judge Ekaette Obot to the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Justice Obot last Wednesday jailed the Lagos-based lawyer for one month for alleged contempt.

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

NBA president Olumide Akpata said in a statement posted to social media on Wednesday that efforts to free Effiong by diplomatic means had failed, following Obot’s unwillingness or inability to “further entertain the matter.”

Akpata said the NBA gathered that the judge did not follow due process in the committal proceedings.

He alleged that Effiong was allegedly neither put in the dock nor accorded a fair hearing before the judge convicted and sentenced him.

“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,” he said.

Last Thursday, Akpata gave an order for the incident to be investigated.