The Nigerian Correctional Service, Akwa Ibom State Command has denied reports that lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, was handcuffed, assaulted and bundled into a van by officers of the Command in a bid to secretly transfer him from Ikot Ekpene Custodial Centre to its Uyo facility.
The State’s Public Relations Officer, Richard Metong, says such news is fake. He added that the activist is safe, unhurt and not tortured or humiliated.
The lawyer was committed to a one-month imprisonment at the Uyo Custodial Centre on July 27, 2022, by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaete Obot, for an alleged contemptuous conduct while he was in court to defend a colleague, Leo Ekpenyong, in a libel suit filed by the Governor of the State, Udom Emmanuel.
On Thursday, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana said he will sue officials of the State Command for allegedly forcefully transferring Mr Effiong to Uyo in handcuffs, as well as torturing him and shaving his beard and hair.
Mr Falana added that the Chief Judge had refused to provide the detained activist with the certified true copies of the court judgment, in contravention of Section 36(7) of the Nigerian Constitution, which he says is delaying his appeal process.
But, according to the PRO of the State Command, Mr Effiong, upon completion of his 14-day isolation period in Ikot Ekpene, in adherence to the Covid-19 safety protocols, was transferred to the Uyo Custodial Centre on Wednesday, August 10, where he is to serve the remaining part of his term as indicated in his warrant.
The command added that, On arrival at Uyo, he was duly admitted into the facility and informed of the need to cut his hair and beards as a security measure, which he obliged and willingly allowed the barber using a clipper and not a blunt instrument as speculated on social media.
Last week, the Nigerian Bar Association’s President, Olumide Akpata, revealed that 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.”
He also stated that the NBA is exploring resorting to the National Judicial Council, because its findings revealed that Justice Obot did not follow due process in the committal proceedings.