Court Bars Journalists from Covering Proceedings in Rape Case

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Chris-Isiguzo
NUJ-President

On December 21, 2022, journalists who went to court to cover the trial of Dr. Femi Olaleye, who is charged with defiling his wife’s niece, were barred by Justice Ramon Oshodi of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court in Ikeja, Lagos from covering the proceedings as the judge insisted that the matter would be held in camera. 

The prosecution had requested that journalists should be stopped from covering the proceedings as the alleged victim was billed to testify.

The judge ruled that the request of the prosecution for a closed hearing was in line with the 1999 Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJL) as amended.

Justice Oshodi said: “I have carefully considered the request of the prosecution for a closed session, and defence did not oppose. I hereby order that the court be vacated for a closed session.”

“The defendant is at liberty to nominate anybody to attend the hearing,” the judge ruled.

Section 36(4)a of the 1999 Constitution states that “a court or such a tribunal may exclude from its proceedings persons other than the parties thereto or their legal practitioners in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, the welfare of persons who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the protection of the private lives of the parties or to such extent as it may consider necessary by reason of special circumstances in which publicity would be contrary to the interests of justice.”