Popular lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), says he will sue prison officials for allegedly torturing lawyer, Inibehe Effiong.
Mr Effiong is serving a one-month prison sentence for contempt of court after asking the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom, Ekaette Obot, to recuse herself from a case he is handling.
In a statement on Thursday titled, “Brutal Torture Meted out to Inibehe Effiong by Nigerian Correctional Service is Unacceptable”, Mr Falana said the chief judge had refused to provide the detained activist with the certified true copies of the court judgment, which is delaying his appeal process.
“In order to prevent Effiong 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,”
He said the warrant signed by the chief judge directed that Mr Effiong be held in the Ikot Ekpene Correctional Centre, Akwa Ibom throughout the duration of his prison term but the order of the court was secretly varied on Thursday as Mr Effiong was forcefully transferred to Uyo Correctional Centre in handcuffs even though there was no violence on his part.
The senior advocate added that, “At the Uyo Correctional Centre, Effiong 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,”
This, he argued amounts to a breach of Mr Effiong’s constitutional right to dignity guaranteed by Section 34 of the constitution and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, which he vows to challenge in court.
Mr Falana added that he press for the prosecution of the officials who inflicted torture on the lawyer in line with section 2 of the Anti Torture Act of 2017, which imposes 25 years for the offence of inflicting torture on any person in Nigeria, without any option of fine.
The senior advocate of Nigeria also noted that the unprovoked violence unleashed on Mr Effiong 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.