By Onozure Dania
Lagos—It was a day of rage against journalists at a Lagos court as Chief Magistrate of an Igbosere Magistrate’s Court 2, Folashade Botoku, threw pressmen out her court.
The journalists that were thrown out on the orders of Botoku were from Vanguard, The Guardian and Take a Break Media.
The journalists had arrived the court very early in spite of the heavy down pour, and took their seats in the section reserved for litigants.
They arrived before both the lawyers and the magistrate, who came two hours behind schedule for a judgment involving a businessman, Paul Ojoje and Princely Court, owners of Protea Hotel Kuramo Waters, over debt of N7million.
It was obvious that the Magistrate was shocked that journalists were seated so early despite the heavy down pour.
Trouble started when the court registrar asked the journalists to leave the court room so that lawyers who came late could sit, informing that it was an order from the magistrate who was yet to take her seat.
When the journalists queried why they should vacate their seats since they were not occupying the section reserved for lawyers, the registrar then called the female court orderly identified as Rose Onafu to ‘bundle’ the journalists out of the court room.
The registrar said “ Where is the Police, come and bundle them out.”
Onafu in turn said “Leave the court room right now, this is not your office.”
The situation degenerated into a shouting match when a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice attempted to intervene and queried the registrar on why he ordered the journalists out of the court since they were not sitting at the Bar.
The magistrate then came out of her chambers and asked the female registrar to send the journalists out of the court room.
The female registrar told the journalists “Get out of this court. We have told you, this is not your office. This court is meant for lawyers and not litigants.”
Recall that Magistrate H. O. Amos had in March 2017, ordered a Vanguard reporter, out of his court, for not obtaining his permission before entering his court.
In the course of proceedings, the court registrar had informed Amos that there was a journalist in the court and Amos who has a reputation for barring journalists from his court, abruptly stopped the proceedings and asked the journalist to identify herself.
Meanwhile, Ojoje, an oil dealer of Rejoice Hope Company had earlier petitioned the former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Olufunmilayo Atilade, following several adjournments the suit had suffered since it was filed in 2011.
The matter which was earlier before Magistrate I.O Oguntade, was later re-assigned to Botoku.
Ojoje had dragged the defendant before the court over the alleged refusal of the management of the hotel to pay N7, 080million, which is the total amount of 60,000 liters of diesel supplied to the company in 2011.
However the judgment which was scheduled to be delivered yesterday could not go on as the Magistrate further adjourned.