A team of lawyers led by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN have filed an originating summons before a Federal High Court, Uyo, seeking to enforce the fundamental human rights of activist lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, sentenced to one month imprisonment by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot for contempt of court.
The team also include Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika SAN, John Aikpokpo-Martins(First Vice President, NBA),Monday Ubani (Chairman SPIDEL), Olakunle Edun (Welfare Secretary, NBA), Funmi Falana, Femi Aborishade, Taiwo Olawanle, Nsikak Akai, Augustine Asuquo, S.M Oyeghe, E.E Philips, and Joseph Eleh.
The suit which was filed alongside an application for accelerated hearing, and which has Justice Obot as the sole respondent, seeks the enforcement of fundamental human rights of Effiong to fair hearing.
The suit which was also marked with suit number FHC/UY/FHR/170/22 was brought pursuant to:
- Order 1 Rule 2 of the Fundamental Enforcement Rights Procedure Rides 2009
- 2. Section 36(7) of the 1999 Constitution as amended
- And under the Inherent Jurisdiction of this Honorable Court.
It seeks the following reliefs:
- A DECLARATION that the Applicant who was jailed on July 27, 2022 by the Akwa Ibom State High Court presided order by the Respondent on account of contempt of court is entitled to a copy of the judgment within seven days of the conclusion of the case.
- A DECLARATION that the refusal of the Respondent to make a copy of her judgment available to the Applicant since the 27th of July, 2022 despite Applicant’s repeated application for same is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates Section 36(7) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
- AN ORDER directing the Respondent to furnish the Applicant with a copy of the judgment delivered on July 27, 2022 forthwith.
The grounds upon which the reliefs are sought are:
- The Applicant is entitled to fundamental right of fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
- The Applicant is entitled to a copy of the judgment delivered by the Respondent on July 27, 2022.
- The refusal of the Respondent application by the Applicant has denied the Applicant appeal against the judgment.
The application summons was supported by a five paragraph affidavit sworn to by Miss Aniema Aka pan, a secretary at Effiong’s chambers in Uyo, wherein the deponent claimed that Justice Obot refused to give him court proceedings that would have enabled him to file his defense.
“On July 27, 2022 the Respondent convicted and sentenced the Applicant to imprisonment for one month on account of contempt of court while he was defending his client Leo Ekpenyong Esq., in a libel suit filed by the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel in suit No: Hu/279/2019. Upon the instruction of the Applicant he applied for a copy of the proceedings of the Respondent of July 27, 2022 to enable him prepare and file an appeal against the Applicant’s conviction at the Court of Appeal. Copy of the said Application letter dated the 29th day of July, 2022 is now shown to me, attached to this affidavit and Marked Exhibit 1
That after waiting for over 10 days without receiving the said proceedings, he made a further application for the copy of the order/judgment convicting the Applicant on 27th of July, 2022 to be given to him but to no avail. Copy of the said Application letter dated the 12th of August, 2022 is now shown to me, attached to this affidavit and Marked Exhibit 2.
Without any reason whatsoever, the Respondent has refused to furnish the Applicant with a copy of the judgment. As a result of the refusal of the Respondent to furnish the Applicant with a copy of the judgment, he has not been able to appeal against the judgment before the Court of Appeal.
The refusal to furnish the Applicant with a copy of the judgment over 14days after his conviction is prejudicial to the Applicant’s fundamental right to fair hearing”.
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