By Dayo Johnson, Akure
THE Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ondo State Council has petitioned both the Chief Judge of the state and the Police Commissioner over alleged harassment and humiliation of some of its members at the State Magistrate Court in Akure.
The Union described as uncivilized and professional for a Police prosecutor and a Magistrate to humiliate pressmen who were in an open court to discharge their lawful duties.
Journalists were ordered out of the court last Friday by the trial magistrate Charity Adeyanju at the ongoing trial of the General Overseer of Sotitobire Miracle Centre who was docked alongside others over the mysterious disappearance of a year old boy Gold Kolawole during a Sunday church service.
A Protest Letter signed by the NUJ Chairman, Adetona Adetoboye and the State Secretary, Leke Adegbite and addressed to the State Chief Judge and the State Commissioner of Police over a Magistrate, Mrs Charity Adeyanju and a Police Prosecutor, Inspector Uloh Goodluck who openly walked out journalists and prevented them from covering the trial of Prophet Alfa Babatunde of Sotitobire Church.
The Union in the letter dated January 17, 2020, bemoaned the unprofessional roles played by the prosecutor, Inspector Uloh Goodluck who even verbally attacked some of the journalists in the court premises.
The letter said “we write to humbly seek Your lordship’s intervention in the harassment and humiliation of some of our members who were at the state Magistrate Court sitting in Oke-Eda Akure on Friday 17th January, 2020, to cover the court proceedings in a case involving the State against Prophet Alfa Babatunde & others.
“Before the court’s sitting on the said date, the already seated pressmen were personally ordered out of the court by the trial Magistrate, Mrs Charity Adeyanju and were equally prevented from covering the case without any “known offence” in an open court.”
“Over the years, all judges and magistrates in the state can testify to the fact that Ondo state parades the best set of journalists who covered courts’ proceedings with high level of professionalism and decorum.
“Your Lordship, we write this protest letter to register the displeasure of over 400 journalists in the state on the “uncivilized” prevention of the media from performing their lawful duties in an open court.
‘ lt was alleged that the voice of the Magistrate was recorded and circulated on social media by some elements, it is obvious that under the journalism training, media are not legally allowed to use voice or film of judges/magistrates while presiding over any matter in an open court and therefore no journalist could do such because all of them are not new in the coverage of judicial proceedings.
“We also by this letter seek your protection for our members in covering courts in the state unhindered in line with international best practice and the affected Public officers should be called to order.
The union said “As a responsible professional Union, the NUJ shall be ready to discipline any of its member who breaches of the code of ethics in any way and the Union shall continue to maintain the existing cordial relationship between it and the state judiciary.
Police arraign self-confessed kidnapper
Meanwhile, the State Police Command yesterday arraigned Chibuzor Elike, the self-proclaimed kidnapper of the one-year-old Kolawole Gold who went missing at the Sotitobire Miracle Centre, Akure, last year.
Elike allegedly threatened the wife of Sotitobire’s Founder, Bisola Alfa, through a text message, claiming the boy was with him and demanded N800,000 ransom for his release.
The 36-year-old suspect was said to have committed the offence on December 14th, 2019 at about 11:30pm off Oda Road, Akure, when he vowed to kill the boy if the ransom was not paid.
The three counts against him contravene sections 509, 406 and 407 of the Criminal Code Cap 37 Vol 1 Laws of Ondo State 2006.
The Prosecuting Police Officer, Adeoye Adesegun, told the court that he had five witnesses. He prayed the court to remand the accused and adjourn the case to enable him study the case file.
The Defense Counsel, Isaac Adubazi, however, urged the court to grant the defendant bail, promising a credible and reliable surety.
The Presiding Magistrate, Mayomi Olanipekun, ordered that the defendant be remanded at Olokuta Correctional Service pending legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and adjourned the matter till February 20, 2020.