Contempt Of Court: Justice Okon Abang Orders the Arraignment of Three Journalists

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Mr. Abubakar Malami,  Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice
Mr. Abubakar Malami,
Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 3, 2018 ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to charge three anchors of the “Sunrise” programme on Channels Television, Chamberlain Usoh, Gimba Umar and Anneota Egbe, with contempt of court for broadcasting  a programme where an alleged prejudicial statement was made. The statement relates to an ongoing trial of Mr. Olisa Metuh, former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The presiding judge, Justice Abang after viewing the recorded programme in an open court ordered the arraignment of the three presenters and their guest on the programme, Ben-Chuks Nwosu, a lawyer in Metuh’s legal team.

According to the Judge, the journalists, by virtue of section 133(4) of the Criminal Code should be charge before any court of  coordinate jurisdiction, in order to determine whether the conversation held on the programme that day was prejudicial or not. In addition, he said the station must explain why it engaged in a matter pending before the court.

He charged the Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to determine if Nwosu’s conduct was in violation of Rule 33 of the Rules of professional conduct of legal practitioners, 2007. Johnson Ojogbane, a prosecutor with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who also featured in the TV programme through a telephone conversation, was exempted from reprimand.