The Nigerian Bar Association on Wednesday said it may be forced to report the Akwa Ibom State Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot, to the National Judicial Council for jailing a lawyer, Inibehe Effiong.
It said the decision would however depend on the outcome of its ongoing investigations on the matter.
The association’s National President, Olumide Akpata, disclosed this in an update on the matter which he posted on twitter handle, @OlumideAkpata. Justice Obot ordered Effiong to be remanded in jail for one month over what she called “contemptuous and insulting behaviour in court.”
The CJ also noted that the lawyer would use the correctional facility to purge himself of insolence and dishonourable acts that tended to bring the court to disrepute.
However, Akpata said the association’s finding so far indicated that the judge’s decision “not only runs afoul of known practice and procedure in such cases but is also unconstitutional.”
He said in view of that “and depending on the outcome of our ongoing investigations, the NBA may be forced to take this matter up with the National Judicial Council.”
He regretted that the association had not been able to secure the lawyer’s release because of the CJ’s disposition to amicable settlement of the matter.
Akpata wrote, “Unfortunately, attempts to secure Mr Effiong’s release through sustained engagements at different levels have been unsuccessful with the Chief Judge indicating that she was unwilling or unable to further entertain the matter.
“In the circumstance, the NBA is left with no choice but to work on an appeal against the decision of Her Lordship, and I have instructed the NBA team to work with Mr Effiong on an immediate appeal.
“This is not the outcome that we had expected because there is a high chance that Mr Effiong would serve out his one-month custodial term before the end of the appeal.
“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 the court 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).”