A judge of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has ordered the seizure of mobile phones of six judiciary reporters in Abuja.
The six journalists are Wumi Obabori of AIT; Godwin Tsa of the Sun Newspaper; Ikechukwu Nnochiri of Vanguard Newspaper; Austin Okezie of Raypower Fm; Kunle Olasanmi of Leadership Newspaper; and a veteran journalist, Mr. Charles Ozoemena.
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Justice Chizoba Orji ordered them to hand over the phones to her police orderly after she resumed from recess and found the journalists arguing with the officials over their taking pictures and videos in the court.
Trouble started shortly after the court’s register insisted the reporters have no right to cover the courtroom shortly after the judge stood down a matter and entered her chambers to prepare a ruling.
After a scuffle that lasted over one hour, Justice Orji re-entered the courtroom and summoned the AIT reporter to step forward.
“Why were you taking pictures and videos in my court? Who gave you the permission to do that?” the judge asked.
“My lord, I am an accredited judiciary reporter. It is a normal practice for us to take pictures and videos when the court is not sitting, even up to the Supreme Court,” Obabori responded.
“You don’t have such right! If there is such permission, it must be in writing. Who gave you the permission? Show me the authorization?” Justice Orji added.
At that juncture, other journalists in the courtroom stood up and took turns to identify themselves.
“I don’t want to hear from any of you. Now, where is the device you used to take the pictures and videos?” Justice Orji queried the AIT reporter