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‘Horrendous humiliation’ — Falana speaks on alleged torture of Inibehe Effiong in prison

‘Horrendous humiliation’ — Falana speaks on alleged torture of Inibehe Effiong in prison
August 11
23:53 2022

Femi Falana, human rights advocate, has condemned the reported torture of Inibehe Effiong, a legal practitioner, by prison officials in Akwa Ibom.

On July 27, Effiong was sent to prison by Ekaette Obot, chief judge of Akwa Ibom, after the lawyer reportedly protested against the presence of armed policemen in court.

The human rights lawyer was in court to defend Leo Ekpenyong, a lawyer, in a libel suit filed by Udom Emmanuel, governor of Akwa Ibom.

Many Nigerians, including civil society organisations (CSOs), have called for the release of the human rights lawyer.

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On August 3, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said Effiong was not given fair hearing before he was sent to prison by Obot, and the organisation threatened to petition the judge at the National Judicial Council (NJC).

On Thursday, reports surfaced on social media that Effiong had been transferred to the Uyo correctional centre, and that the lawyer’s hair and beard have been forcefully shaved.

TheCable has not been able to independently verify the claim.

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Speaking on the alleged torture in a statement on Thursday, Falana said such action amounts to a violation of Effiong’s fundamental human rights.

“In order to prevent Inibehe from appealing against the conviction and sentence imposed on him, the chief judge has refused to furnish him with a certified true copy of her judgment in contravention of section 36(7) of the constitution which prescribes that every convict is entitled to a copy of the judgment of the court that tried and convicted him,” Falana said.

“However, the warrant signed by the judge directed that Effiong be held in Ikot Ekpene correctional centre, Akwa Ibom, throughout the duration of his prison term.

“But the order of the court was secretly varied today as Inibehe was forcefully transferred to Uyo correctional centre in handcuffs even though there was no violence on his part.

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“At the Uyo correctional centre, Inibehe was forced to sit on the bare floor while his head was shaved together with his beard.

“He was thereafter subjected to more horrendous humiliation and paraded before all prison inmates.

“The brutal torture meted out to Inibehe by the prison officials in Akwa Ibom State constitutes a violent violation of his fundamental right to dignity guaranteed by section 34 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“It is painful to note that the unprovoked violence unleashed on Inibehe is a sad reminder of the case of Minere Amakiri, then a reporter with Nigerian Observer, the old Bendel State-owned newspaper, whose head was shaved with a broken bottle in 1973 on the orders of Alfred Diette-Spiff, the then military governor of the state.”

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Amakiri, now late, was said to have reported a story on the plight of teachers in Rivers state, which was said to be embarrassing to the military administrator at the time.

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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