History

Defender of the defenceless who was put behind bars

Inibehe Effiong regards himself as being the enemy of oppressors and the defender of the defenceless in society. However, despite dedicating his life to putting a stop to injustice and corruption, he ended up having a taste of the same medicine he has frequently spoken and campaigned against.

So, who is Inibehe Effiong, the freedom fighter who was forced to be silent on a rare occasion?

Inibehe Effiong biography

Inibehe Effiong was born on 21 December 1988 in Akwa Ibom State. He attended Presbyterian Senior Science School, Ididep, situated in the Ibiono-Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. He obtained a Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree from the University of Uyo in 2014.

While as a student at UniUyo, Effiong actively engaged in student unionism. As a member of his faculty’s student parliament, he participated in drafting a new constitution for the Law Students Association (LAWSAN), University of Uyo Chapter. He held various positions in LAWSAN, including the Senior Advocate of LAWSAN and Director of Litigation for his Chambers in the university.

After a fierce contest, Effiong triumphed at the polls and was elected as President of LAWSAN, UniUyo chapter, in 2012. However, the university’s management reportedly removed him from office in what he described as a terrible act of injustice and persecution. He was also the President of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Campus Fellowship at the university’s campus.

 He attended the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School in 2014 and was called to the Nigerian bar a year later.

Career

Inibehe Effiong talking

After he was called to the bar, Effiong made a conscious decision to focus on human rights and the public interest aspects of the law practice. He modelled his law practice after the late (and revered) radical lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), and is known to have collaborated with many associates of the late legal luminary, particularly Femi Falana (SAN), on several cases.

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He runs his own chamber: Inibehe Effiong Chambers, and he is the Principal/Lead Counsel of the chamber. Effiong is primarily a litigation lawyer, meaning that he defends parties to civil lawsuits in court. He has, however, reportedly represented clients in arbitration cases.

Asides from being a lawyer, Effiong is also an activist, a social commentator and an author. He has written extensively about Nigeria’s many issues. His opinion pieces have appeared and been syndicated in numerous Nigerian newspapers and online news websites.

He belongs to several groups, including the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO). He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the interests of justice and compassion.

Road to imprisonment 

Effiong was recently released from Uyo prison after he was imprisoned for 30 days for alleged court contempt. Justice Ekaette Obot, the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, sentenced Effiong to prison on 27 July 2022 for allegedly disrespecting the court.

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Representing Leo Ekpenyong in a libel case instituted by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, Effiong objected to the presence of two armed police operatives in the courtroom during a hearing of the case. This action infuriated the judge.

Effiong, however, insisted that he never disrespected the judge but only demanded that due process be followed in the case. He claimed that Obot, who had let armed police officers brandishing AK-47 weapons inside the courtroom, had threatened to throw him in jail if he had accused her of prejudice and asked her to step down from the case. 

Two attorneys in the court, according to Effiong, appealed to Judge Obot, but the Chief Judge urged that the Lagos-based lawyer be sent to jail. The judge subsequently ordered the attorney’s imprisonment for a month in a prison in Akwa Ibom State. His arrest got many people talking, including lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the African Action Congress (AAC), where he serves as its National Legal Adviser.

Upon his release on 26 August, he described his encounter at the Uyo prison as “harrowing”, saying that he was tortured while he was imprisoned. The lawyer named Enobong Philip as the two-star officer of the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) responsible for allegedly torturing him. He noted that a female jail guard, who witnessed him having his beard and hair scraped, told him: “Here we treat humans like animals.”

Effiong added that the conditions of the Uyo Custodial Center were undeserving for human habitation.

Inibehe Effiong net worth

Effiong’s net worth is not publicly known, but he is seemingly well-to-do. Asides from pro-bono cases, his chamber also handles high-profile cases, which would result in premium fee charges paid by the clients.

Family 

Effiong is reportedly married, but neither the name of his spouse nor the names of his kids have been made public.

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