Falana, others sue Akwa Ibom CJ over jailed lawyer’s rights
A group of lawyers, led by human rights crusader, Femi Falana (SAN), has filed an originating summons before a Federal High Court, Uyo, seeking to enforce the fundamental human rights of a jailed activist lawyer, Inihebe Effiong.
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, had, on July 27, 2022, sentenced Effiong to one-month imprisonment for contempt of court.
In the suit numbered FHC/117/FHR/170/22, filed on August 15 alongside an application for an accelerated hearing against Justice Obot, who is the sole defendant, the applicant is asking the court for an order directing the respondent, Justice Obot, to furnish the applicant a copy of the judgment delivered on July 27, 2022.
Other lawyers representing the applicant include Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN); 1st Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), John Aikpokpo-Martins and Chairman NBA-SPIDEL, Dr. Monday Ubani; NBA Welfare Secretary, Olakunle Edun and Funmi Falana.
Others are Femi Aborishade; Taiwo Olawanle; Nsikak Akai; Augustine Asuquo; S.M. Oyeghe; E.E. Phillips and Joseph Eleh.
Effiong, in the application, is asking the court for a declaration that he is entitled to a copy of the judgment of Akwa lbom State High Court presided over by the defendant, who jailed him on July 27.
The applicant further prayed the court for a declaration that the refusal of the respondent to make a copy of the judgment available to him since July 27 despite repeated applications is illegal and unconditional and a violation of Section 36(7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The reliefs were sought on three grounds, including fundamental rights of a fair hearing guaranteed under Section 36 of the Constitution, and refusal of the respondent to avail him (applicant) the opportunity to appeal against the judgment, among others.
However, a five-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the secretary in the chambers of Effiong, Miss Aniema Akpan, said the refusal by the respondent to furnish the applicant with a copy of the judgment 14 days after his conviction in spite of his application for the same dated July 29 was prejudicial to his fundamental rights of fair hearing.
The affidavit deposed that the respondent convicted and sentenced the applicant to the one-imprisonment for contempt of court while defending his client, Leo Ekpenyong, in a libel suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom in suit No: HU/279/2019.
No date has been fixed for hearing of the application.