By Harris Emanuel
A civil society organisation, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, has condemned the incarceration of Inibehe Effiong, a lawyer, over alleged contempt by Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot.
Besides, the group expressed dismay over the detention of one Jackie Ikeotuonye, who, according to report, had been having a running battle with Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi.
Ikeotuonye had disclosed her arrest and detention via her Facebook page which reads: “Nigeria! You win a case against a governor and he sends policemen to arrest you.”
She had reportedly won a case against Governor Dave Umahi, which mandated that she be paid N30 million the Ebonyi State government owed her.
Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, described as outrageous and condemnable that citizens were oppressed in such a manner for demanding what is due to them or exercising their rights.
“We denounce such an abuse of power and condemn these attempts to criminalize dissent,” he said.
In a statement by Jasper Koikoibo, a lawyer and advocacy officer at HOMEF, it was noted that “Mr. Effiong has a longstanding relationship with our organisation and we know for a fact that he is a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria. More so, he is a legal practitioner, who is committed to the advancement of justice for the downtrodden and eschews disrespect for both the high and hoi polloi of Nigerian society.
“In any case, we are also fully informed that the learned judge adopted a unique legal procedure in convicting Mr. Effiong. The law is unambiguous in this respect: that where contempt is committed in the face of the court, the proper step is to put the alleged contemnor in the dock for an opportunity for him to show cause why he must not be punished for contempt. From all available reports, it does not appear that Chief Judge Obot followed this procedure in Mr. Effiong’s case.
“We, therefore, condemn in the strongest terms this untrammeled abuse of judicial/political authority, and call for the unconditional release of Inibehe Effiong and Mrs. Jackie Ikeotuonye forthwith.”