Lawyers are now allowed to enter the premises of the Federal High Court Abuja with their phones and electronics devices courtesy of a petition by Lagos lawyer Inibehe Effiong.
Announcing the Chief Judge’s reversal of the long standing phone restriction policy, Inibehe wrote:
I have confirmed that the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Abdul Kafarati, has attended to and acted on my petition against the policy/practice of seizing mobile phones and other communication gadgets from legal practitioners by security officials in the Federal High Court in Abuja.
You would recall that on the 8th day of March, 2018 I submitted a petition to the Chief Judge against the practice of seizing mobile phones and other communication gadgets from legal practitioners by security officials in the Federal High Court premises in Abuja as a precondition for allowing lawyers access into the main building of the Court. I also copied the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). I personally delivered the petition to the offices of the CJ and the NBA President.
The erstwhile policy had been going on for a very long time unchallenged to the shame of the legal profession in Nigeria . Lawyers were greatly demoralized and scandalized by it. No one ever explained why lawyers were not allowed to carry their phones into the main building of the Federal High Court in Abuja. Such practice does not exist even at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
I wish to express my profound appreciation to My Lord, the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, for acting swiftly to redress the wrong done to the psyche, prestige and rights of Nigerian lawyers who were constantly humiliated and harassed over the policy. The dignity of lawyers has been restored at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.
Lawyers can now enter the Temple of Justice where they are Ministers by virtue of their Call as Barristers and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with their phones and other communication gadgets.
Lawyers should not be endangered species.
I am aware that lawyers are also not allowed to carry their phones into nearly all the police stations in Nigeria when going to see their clients/suspects. The reason for this is only known to the police who have never hidden their contempt and disaffection for legal practitioners. I believe that it is time to challenge the police on the legality and constitutionality of stopping legal practitioners from accessing police stations with their phones.
Accordingly, I shall be submitting a petition to the Inspector General of Police within the month on the matter and if no action is taken within 14 days thereafter to redress it, I shall approach the Federal High Court to seek redress.
Let it be known that these actions are not intended to seek attention or to make anyone a hero. It is only our modest contribution to widen the democratic space in Nigeria and promote the cause of human rights and justice. Lawyers are also victims of injustice and rights abuses. If lawyers cannot fight for their rights, how will they fight for the rights of the common man in Nigeria?
We shall not relent, we shall not be cowed.
INIBEHE EFFIONG ESQ.
This is really commendable!