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HOMEF Condemns  Detention of Rights Lawyer, Woman

todayAugust 4, 2022

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Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has condemned the detention of Inibehe Effiong and Jackie Ikeotuonye, who were arrested on July 27, 2022, and August 1, 2022, respectively.

While Inibehe Effiong, an ally of HOMEF, a human rights lawyer was jailed by a High Court in Akwa Ibom State for contempt of court, Jackie Ikeotuonye, who is also a partner of HOMEF, was arrested by Ebonyi State Police after she allegedly won a case against the state Governor, Dave Umahi.

It was reported that Effiong got the jail sentence while representing his client in a libel trial involving the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, before the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Ekaette Obot.

Jackie, also a rights activist, had alerted the public of her arrest via social media. Her Facebook post read: “Nigeria! You win a case against a governor and he sends policemen to arrest you.”

She had reportedly won a case against Governor Dave Umahi, which mandated that she be paid the N30million which the Ebonyi State Government owed her.”

But the Ebonyi State Police Command said Jackie, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Andrew Bishopton Limited, was arrested by the police for allegedly defrauding the Ebonyi State Government of N50 million.

In a statement, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Chris Anyanwu, said Jackie allegedly committed the offence while pretending to be a consultant on recovery of funds contrary to Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2006.

Meanwhile, the Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, stated that it is outrageous and condemnable that citizens are oppressed in such a manner for demanding what is due to them or exercising their rights.

“We denounce such an abuse of power and condemn these attempts to criminalise dissent,” Bassey added.

In a statement signed yesterday by a lawyer and advocacy officer at HOMEF, Jasper Koikoibo, it noted: “Effiong has a longstanding relationship with our organisation, and we know for a fact that he is a law-abiding citizen of Nigeria. More so, he is a legal practitioner who is committed to the advancement of justice for the downtrodden and eschews disrespect for both the high and hoi polloi of the Nigerian society.

“To treat the Temple of Justice of which he is a committed minister with contempt, is not in his character as ‘convicted’ for at all.

“In any case, we are also fully informed that the learned Judge adopted a unique legal procedure in convicting Effiong. The law is unambiguous in this respect: That where contempt is committed in the face of the court, the proper step is to put the alleged contemnor in the dock for an opportunity for him to show cause why he must not be punished for contempt. From all available reports, it does not appear that Chief Judge Obot followed this procedure in Effiong’s case.

“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others. We, therefore, condemn in the strongest terms this untrammeled abuse of judicial, political authority, and call for the unconditional release of Inibehe Effiong and Mrs. Jackie Ikeotuonye forthwith.”

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