The Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State, Uko Udom, SAN, on Tuesday, said that a judge had the power to decide what was contemptuous in his court.
Udom stated this while answering a question on the incarcerated human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who was committed to one-month imprisonment by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot, over contempt of court, at the ongoing Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Meeting in Lagos.
He said he stood by the rule of law and would take any action that promoted the rule of law, adding that the issue relating to the conduct of the judge and the incarceration of the lawyer was at the Appeal Court.
Udom said, “I was somebody who was trained in the old school, I am a very conservative lawyer and have no apology for that. We were told that we do not talk back to the judge. If a judge says your conduct or your action or your words are contemptuous to the court what you do as a lawyer is to apologise and then explain to the court that it was never your intention to be contemptuous.
“Are we saying that the judge does not have the power to commit to contempt? What we were thought is that a judge is the master of the court, a judge must uphold the dignity of the court, a judge is the one that decides whether anything is contemptuous or not.
“Let us remember that the judge cannot protest or call a press conference to explain themselves. Let us teach our young ones the ethics of the profession.”
We had reported that Effiong was committed to prison on July 27 for alleged contempt of court.
He served the first two weeks of his 30 days sentence at the Ikot Ekpene Custodial Center of the Nigeria Correctional Service.
He was later transferred to Uyo Custodial Centre to serve the remaining days.
Effiong was reportedly abused by prison officials who scraped his hair and beard.
The lawyer’s incarceration on the order of Justice Obot has attracted condemnations across the country.