Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot.
By Abasifreke Effiong
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, says the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot, did not follow due process in the committal of Mr. Inibehe Effiong to prison last week.
In a release on Wednesday, the President of NBA, Olumide Akpata, said from their findings, the Chief Judge did not follow due process in the committal procedure.
Akpata hinted that the NBA will not hesitate to take up the violation of procedure in the committal order with the National Judicial Council.
“Regardless of the conduct of Mr. Effiong in the courtroom on the date of the proceedings that led to his committal, one thing that has come out from the various accounts that the NBA has so far received is that Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot did not follow due process in the committal proceedings.
“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.”
Justice Obot committed Mr. Effiong, human rights lawyer to one month imprisonment over alleged contempt, after she had earlier on July 2 threatened to jail the lawyer if he ‘didn’t behave himself.’
The NBA stated that their attempts to secure the release of Mr. Effiong have not been successful because the Chief Judge was unwilling to entertain the matter.