The Government of Nigeria on February 5, 2013 applied to a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to bar journalists from covering the trial of Mr. Mustapha Umar, one of the suspected masterminds of the bombing of SOJ Plaza in Kaduna which houses the offices of three newspapers: ThisDay, The Moment and The Sun.
Mr. Simon Labaran, counsel to the Nigerian government, made the oral application during the arraignment of the suspect. He asked the presiding Judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola to bar journalists from covering the proceedings pursuant to section 31(3) of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, which, according to him, “is to protect the interest of public safety as well as the safety of the witnesses who will be called upon to testify against the suspected terrorist in the course of his trial.”
Justice Adeniyi Ademola however rejected the application on the ground that the public is interested in the outcome of the matter and has a right to know what took place in the course of the trial.
The Judge advised the government counsel to bring a formal application for the request and suggested some ways through which witnesses identities can be protected without having to bar journalists from covering the trial.