Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, has narrated his ordeal in prison.
The young lawyer was incarcerated for a month in Akwa Ibom State on the order of the state Chief Judge, Ekaette Obot, who accused him of contempt after he had objected to the presence of two armed police operatives in the courtroom.
Mr Effiong, who described his experience as “harrowing”, said a female prison official who saw when his beard and hair were being scraped, told him, “Here we treat people like animals.”
He did not disclose the name of the female prison official but identified another official who tortured him as Enobong Philip, whom he said is a “two star officer”.
Speaking to over 500 audience members on the Twitter space, an evening with @InibeheEffiong on Wednesday evening, Mr Effiong said Mr Philip forced him to sit on the floor and scraped his beard and hair against his wish.
Mr Effiong described the condition of Custodial Centres as “undeserving for human habitation”. “There’s nothing in the Correctional Service that corrects anybody,” he said.
He said he had the feeling that something would happen to him a day before the judge committed him to prison, and that he told his friend, Omoyele Sowore about it.
He said he could not have believed he would spend the next 30 days in prison.
Mr Sowore is the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress Party. Mr Effiong represented the candidate in a court in Lagos on 26 July.
Mr Effiong had spent the first two weeks of his incarceration in the Ikot Ekpene Custodial Centre, and was later moved to Uyo Custodial Centre on 10 August where spent the remaining days.
He was reportedly abused by Mr Philip, who handcuffed him and threw him inside the prison vehicle like “a common criminal”.
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Correctional Service in Akwa Ibom, Richard Metong, denied prison officials tortured Mr Effiong. He said the lawyer willingly allowed his hair and beard to be cut.
Speaking on Wednesday evening, Mr Effiong said he never consented to his hair and beard being scraped. He said he was planning some legal actions.
‘I will continue the case’
Mr Effiong was at Mrs Obot’s court to defend his client, Leo Ekpenyong, in a defamation case in which Governor Udom Emmanuel is the claimant.
The lawyer had in previous proceedings requested Justice Obot to recuse herself from the case because of bias or likelihood of bias.
“I will continue the case in the court. I am not going to abandon the case because I was sentenced,” Mr Effiong told his audience, when asked if he would continue with the case.
“Incarceration does not silence a freedom fighter,” he added.
He vowed to reappear before the chief judge on the matter if she does not recuse herself in the case as requested by his pending application.
Justice Obot had in the conviction proceedings released 48 hours after she was sued said she would not continue with the case after the court resumes from its current vacation.
The judge has been criticised over the strategy she employed in convicting the lawyer, which legal practitioners said lacked due process.
Amnesty International Nigeria, the Nigeria Labour Union, and the Nigerian Bar Association had faulted the procedure adopted by Justice Obot in jailing the lawyer.
Several groups had staged protests in Uyo against the lawyer’s incarceration.
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