Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong has just been released from Uyo prison after spending 30 days for alleged contempt of court.
The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Ekaette Obot, on 27 July, sentenced Mr Effiong to prison after the lawyer objected to the presence of two armed police operatives in the courtroom.
The lawyer stepped out of the prison at around 8 a.m. to a waiting crowd of supporters around the prison premises.
“I consider it an honour for me to be incarcerated for the truth,” Mr Effiong said to reporters and supporters.
He said his incarceration has strengthened his resolve to fight for truth and justice in Nigeria.
“This voice, till no end, is now louder,” he said.
“Let me state clearly and unequivocally that while I am grateful to God for this experience because as you may have seen it yourself, this has only strengthened me, this has only fortified me.
“I only feel sorry for those who feel they can break me by this incarcerated because the Inibehe that has just come out of incarceration is brimming with fire. Fire to fight for the common people of this country and no oppressor can quench that fire.”
Mr Effiong cut a different looks, having had his hair and beard forcefully scraped inside the prison.
He was clutching a bible and a copy of Nelson Mandela’s book, A Long Walk to Freedom, which he said were his companions inside the prison.
Standing close to Mr Effiong was his associate and the head of Inibehe Effiong Chambers in Uyo, Augustine Asuquo, and a divisional police officer.
‘I never disrespected the court’
Mr Effiong, surrounded by a crowd of supporters, said he did nothing wrong that warranted his committal to prison.
“I never at any time pointed my hand at the Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom. I never at any time banged the table. I never at any time shouted at the court. These accusations only came to me while I was in incarceration.
“But you know, deception and lies may prevail for a while but there are two judges that no man can deceive; the judge of heave and the judge of conscience. The Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, whose office I respect, knows in her conscience that I never acted in any insolent manner. I never disrespected the court.
Mr Effiong narrated how two armed police operatives were brought into the courtroom in the order of Justice Obot and how a PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Saviour Imukudo, was ordered out of the courtroom and his phone confiscated for covering the court proceedings.
Several groups, including Amnesty International, Nigerian Bar Association, and Nigeria Labour Congress, have condemned Mr Effiong’s incarceration.
Mr Effiong thanked his family members, his lead counsel, Femi Falana, SAN, other members of his legal team, and Nigerians for standing up for him.
He thanked the Olumide Akpata-led Nigeria Bar Association, civil societies, and the media for their support.
“The prison life is what I have always been prepared for,” the lawyer said. “That is why I laugh at those who were celebrating my incarceration.
“I have always been prepared. I knew this was inevitable because you do not consistently fight those who are oppressing our people and you do not expect to be incarcerated,” he said.
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