A presiding Magistrate, Mr. H. O Amos on March 3, 2017 ordered Ms Onozure Dania, the Vanguard newspaper Judicial Correspondent, out of his court for not first obtaining his permission before covering proceedings in the court.
Ms Dania was at the Igbosere Magistrate Court, Lagos covering an application by a surety, Mr. Gbenga Badmos, to withdraw from standing as surety for a defendant, Mr. Akindele Afolabi, who is the former holder of a power of attorney for the Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu Estate.
During the court session, the court registrar drew the attention of the Magistrate to the presence of the journalist who was taking notes of the proceeding.
The Magistrate immediately halted proceedings and asked the journalist to identify herself whereon the drama ensured.
Magistrate Amos asked Ms Dania who she was and she disclosed she is a journalist. Again, he asked her what her what her interest was in this matter and she responded saying she had no personal interest but added that she was there because she covers the judiciary adding “I understand that the court is a public place and anybody can come and get whatever information he or she needs.”
The Magistrate then asked if she took permission from him before entering the court to which she answered that she doesn’t need to take permission as the court is a public place adding that she covers the High Courts and has never been asked to obtain permission to do so.
Magistrate Amos agreed that the court is a public place, but argued that the journalist neither sought nor got his permission before entering the court. He asked if she thinks she “can just come into the court and start writing whatever” she likes.
He said: “If you want to write anything from this court, I must veto it before it is published.”
When Ms Dania told him he cannot veto her story before publication, he ordered her: “Then walk out of my court”.