The judge, who ordered the journalist’s arrest, sent a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, to prison for alleged contempt of court.
The PREMIUM TIMES reporter, Saviour Imukudo, who was detained on Wednesday, on the order of the Akwa Ibom Chief Judge, Ekaette Obot, has been released.
Mr Imukudo was released at about 5 p.m. Wednesday after PREMIUM TIMES Assistant Managing Editor (Southern Operations), Cletus Ukpong, met with the chief judge in her office.
The judge said her grouse with the reporter was that he used his telephone to do audio recording of proceedings in her court without her permission.
Mr Imukudo admitted recording the proceedings but explained that he did so to enable him accurately report what transpired in court.
“Because the case had become controversial, I wanted to be careful,” the reporter said. “I wanted to capture the highlights on tape so there is no risk of misquoting anyone.”
The reporter was compelled to delete the recording he made, with Justice Obot saying permission must be granted before any recording of proceedings must be made in her court.
Mr Imukudo was then released and his telephone returned to him.
“PREMIUM TIMES is a responsible organisation,” Mr Ukpong said. “We will continue to report the defamation case and other cases in the state responsibly, with no bias and in line with global best practices and the ethics of our profession.
“We urge the Chief Judge to consider journalists as partners in the temple of justice. She should be more tolerant of journalists who, like a good number of judges, are on a mission to make our world a more just, prosperous and peaceful place.”
The reporter was in court to cover the proceedings of a defamation suit between the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, and the defendant, Leo Ekpenyong, a lawyer.
Mr Ekpenyong’s lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, was on the same day imprisoned by Justice Obot after she accused him of contempt of court.
The judge first asked Mr Imukudo to leave her court. But as he exited, the judge directed her police orderlies to intercept him, confiscate his telephone and detain him.
The journalist was detained in an office within the judiciary complex before being transferred to a nearby divisional police station, where he was made to write a statement.