There was mild drama at the Magistrate’s Court, Igbosere, Lagos State, last Friday when a presiding magistrate, Mr. H.O. Amos, queried the presence of a journalist in his court.
After several questions and answers, Amos eventually ordered the journalist out of his court. He said the journalist did not obtained permission before entering his court.
Before the journalist was ordered out, Amos was hearing an application filed by Mr. Gbenga Badmos, who had applied to withdraw from standing as surety for a defendant, Mr. Akindele Afolabi.
Afolabi, 48, was arraigned alongside one Alhaji Adio Kazeem, 79, before the court on August 11, 2014, on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forcible entering, forcible possession, impersonation, breach of peace and threat, preferred against them by the police.
In the course of proceedings, the court’s registrar informed Amos that there was a journalist in court. The magistrate abruptly stopped the proceedings and asked the journalist to identify herself. The following dialogue ensued.
Magistrate: Who are you?
Journalist: I am a journalist.
Magistrate: What is your interest in this matter?
Journalist: I have no interest in the matter. I am here to cover court proceedings; that is why I am here. I understand that the court is a public place and anybody can come and get whatever information they need.
Magistrate: Did you take permission from me before entering the court?
Journalist: I don’t need to take permission as the court is a public place.
I do cover the high courts, the Court of Appeal and I have never been asked to seek permission before covering the court proceedings there.
Magistrate: I agree that the court is a public place, but did you take my permission before entering this court? You think you can just come into my court and start writing whatever you like? If you want to write anything from this court, I must vet it before it is published.
Journalist: You can’t vet my story before publication
Magistrate: Then walk out of my court.
Earlier, Badmos, who was seeking to withdraw from the matter as a surety, said the reason for his withdrawal was that he no longer had confidence in the defendant and that the defendant had already procured travel documents and plans to leave Nigeria.
Afolabi and others at large, between July 6, 2004, and January 2014, allegedly conspired and unlawfully entered a property belonging to Samuel Odumale and Ademola Adegbuyi, in a conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
The prosecutor, Inspector, Haruna Ibrahim, said Afolabi illegally mobilised others still at large to forcefully take over two buildings located in Lagos.
He said, on January 6, 2014, Afolabi threatened Barr. Wale Odekhiran with a text message and demanded for the property located at 19, Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Lagos.
According to him, Afolabi, on December 8, 2013, willfully and without a lawful excuse, entered the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Holiness Temple parish, at 16, Koboti Street, Alakara, Idi-Oro, Lagos, and Jesus Headstone Evangelical Ministry at Olaniyi Close, Idi-Oro, Lagos, to disturb the services of the two churches by demanding a ransom.
The offences committed the prosecutor said was punishable under sections 410,52, 166 (d), 300, 126, and 378 (1) (2) of the Criminal laws of Lagos State 2011.
06 March, 2017