By Emmanuel Elebeke
Global human rights watchdog, Amnesty International on Monday condemned the action of Federal Government in restricting journalists from reporting Nnamdi Kanu’s trial at federal high court Abuja.
The Federal Government had through the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Federal High Court on Sunday released the list of 10 accredited media houses to cover court proceedings of the trial of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu slated for Monday, July 26, 2021.
It however, increased the number of accredited media houses to 14 on Monday morning following some protest by some media practitioners.
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The accredited list signed by, Chief Information Officer, Federal High Court of Nigeria, Catherine Oby Christopher was contained in a document dated July 23, 2021, detailing the 10 accredited media houses which included: Premium Times (Ameh Ejekwonyilo), Thisday (Alex Enumah), The Nation (Eric Ikhilae), and the News Agency of Nigeria (Taiye Agbaje), and Daily Independent (Paschal Njoku),The Herald (Kayode Lawal).
The document also listed the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA-Vera Chiwuba), Channels Television (Ella Daniels), Africa Independent Television (Wunmi Obabori), and TVC (Tina Iria) for broadcast media.
In its reaction to the development, Amnesty International described the restriction of access to the coverage of the trial an attempt to deny people the right to know.
The AI also called on the federal government to respect the right to fair hearing and immediately lift the restriction and allow the media unhindered access to the court.
“Amnesty International condemns Nigerian authorities’ restriction of the number of journalists that can report the trial of the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu, which started today in Abuja.
“Selecting few journalists to cover the trial is a restriction on access to information and an attempt to deny people the right to know. It also violates all fair hearing guarantees.
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to respect the right to fair hearing and immediately lift the restriction and allow the media unhindered access to the court to do their job. This is yet another bizarre and unacceptable attack on the Nigerian media that must not stand,” the statement said.
However, the DSS at last failed to produce Kanu in court for trial after all the hullabaloo and the judge adjourned the case to 21 October, 2021.