FOLLOWING the April 4 incidence involving a Lagos Magistrate, Mrs. Aderonke Oshoniyi, and some journalists in her court, the Nigerian Union of Journalists has said that it will take legal action against the
judge and police Inspector-General Mohammed Abubakar. The NUJ says 13 of its journalists were detained on Mrs Oshoniyi’s orders.
“We will not allow the ugly incident to go unchallenged and this is why we are heading to court,” said Deji Elumoye, who is the chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the NUJ.
Mr. Elumoye listed the affected journalists to include Wale Busari, a judicial correspondent with Silverbird Television; Francis Iwuchukwu of Peoples Daily; Henry Ojeluh of PMNews/The News; Yejide Gbenga-Ogundare of Nigerian Tribune; Solomon Asowata of the News Agency of Nigeria and Akinwale Akintunde of Thisday. Others are Yetunde Ayobami-Ojo of The Guardian; Nurudeen Oyewole of Daily Trust, Shola Shoyele, Channels Television; Gbenga Shoyele, Nigerian Compass; Ranti Thomas, Moment Newspapers; Bisi Onanuga, The Nation; and Yemi Adebanjo, News Star newspapers.
The NUJ leader condemned what he called the harassment of newsmen, saying that it runs counter to the spirit of the Nigerian Constitution.
He also expressed fears over the possibility of his action spilling into a larger culture of harassment of journalists in the judiciary, which ordinarily should not only protect journalists who help the arm of government to disseminate its rulings for public knowledge, but use law enforcement to protect the people in general.
“For so long now, Nigerian journalists have been harassed, brutalised and maimed by security agents, whose duty is to guide and protect innocent citizens.
“We are worried that the action of the Magistrate, if unchecked, would rub-off on the judiciary, which is highly regarded as the hope of the common man. Instead of harassing innocent journalists with policemen, they should use the same policemen to stem the tide of insecurity of lives and property in the country,” the chairman said.