FOI Counsel Congratulates Tobi Amusan and Hon. Justice Ekaette Obot

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Oluwatobiloba Amusan hits the world record of 12.05s giving the country her first ever World Champ gold. She was 11th in Rio 2016, 14th in London 2017, 4th in Doha 2019, 4th in Tokyo in 2021 and 1st in Oregon 2022. Indeed perseverance is not a journey, it is many short trips over and over again. Toby in 2016 tweeted “unknown now but soon I will be unforgettable. I will persist until I succeed.”

While Toby Amusan made Nigeria proud, Hon Justice Ekaete of Akwa Ibom made a Nigerian lawyer Inibehe Effiong a hero. Inibehi was sent to prison by Hon Justice Ekaete Obot the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State. Inibehe filed an application for the judge to recuse herself. The moton remain unheard.

In the FOI Counsel Report on Endangered Lawyers published in January 2022, we identified contempt proceedings and harassment as clogs in the discharge of professional duties.

The impasse between Inibehe and the court has long been addressed by Hon. Justice Edokpaiyi (the former Chief Judge of Edo State) in his paper titled “Is it Contempt of Court or Abuse of Judicial Power? where he marked the need to balance the excess of the Bar and the Bench and with emergency.

In the case of Candide-Johnson v. Esther Edigin (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt. 129) 660 where a Chief Magistrate ordered the detention of a lawyer undergoing youth service for some minutes at the cell for refusing to tell the court when he was called to the bar. The Court of Appeal described the action of the Magistrate as abuse of judicial authority.

Achike, JCA in its judgement in Candide Johnson case concluded that “it is clearly improper and will expose the administration of Justice to ridicule.” Hon. Justice Edokpaiyi strongly arrested the naked judicial power when he submitted that “what annoys a judge does not necessarily mean a contempt. The power to punish for contempt is not power to be recklessly used to assuage the injured feeling of the presiding judge.”

As we know power is a blessing in itself save when it is not used for the advancement of a just society. It is now imperative for the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) to release Guidelines for Judicial Officers on transfer of cases and reclusion. Without a policy guide there are bound to be several other tests for how not to be a judge.

In FOI Counsel latest newsletter titled Open Justice, we talked about media coverage of judicial proceedings in line with the reality of new age justice. The court must understand that it is a basic principle of open justice to help reporters to have access to courts.

It is of great concern that the NBA branches are fastly becoming an extension of arms of government. In recent times, they have failed to address the ills in their jurisdiction for appointive positions and financial support.

“This is my court young man not a court of law or justice.” But there is a higher court than the court of justice and that is the court of conscience. As I celebrate with athlete Toby and Hon Justice Obot today, I say if you try and fail, congratulations because most people don’t even try.


SOURCE: LOYAL NIGERIAN LAWYER

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