Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot, has sent human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to one month imprisonment for asking her to recuse herself from a libel suit filed against a fellow lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong.
Justice Obot who allowed armed policemen wielding AK-47 rifles into the courtroom on Wednesday, on June 30, threatened to jail Effiong for accusing her of being bias and asking her to recuse herself from the case.
Udom Emmanuel had sued Ekpenyong for defamation of character over a publication in which he accused the governor of “buying judgment” from the 2019 National Assembly Election Tribunal.
In a motion on notice filed by Ekpenyong’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, he had asked Justice Obot to reassign the case to a neutral judge.
Events in court took another turn on Wednesday morning when the Chief Judge surprisingly ordered that Effiong be thrown behind bars.
In a live Facebook video and also tweets on his official handle, the human rights lawyer said, “We were in court this morning and the atmosphere was very hostile. Immediately my Lord, the chief judge came in, she ordered some armed policemen with AK-47 to come into the court room.
“And then the policemen came in; I kept quiet. The proceedings started and then I reminded the court that we had a motion for recusal, asking the Chief Judge to recuse herself from the matter on the grounds of likelihood of bias.
“And then the court said we should go ahead with the trial and while we were at the court, journalists were asked to leave the place and I simply said, ‘My lord, it’s an open court and we are expecting that anyone who wants to observe proceedings should observe it.
“I also said, My lord, I don’t feel comfortable, having armed policemen inside the court; that I have never seen armed policemen inside the court; that it made me feel uncomfortable, threatened and they could be outside.’
“And My lord ordered me to stay out of the bar, ordered me to de-robe and said she is committing me to prison for one month for raising an observation that armed policemen should not be in the courtroom. I am waiting for the conviction warrant.
I am going to Uyo prison from here. I think it is also an opportunity to see people that are there. So, we will see how this goes. I just want everyone to see what has been happening.”