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Judge orders detention of seven journalists, frees them after three hours

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Seven journalists in Ogun State were yesterday arrested and detained at the Ota High court premises for the better part of the day on the orders of a judge (name withheld).

The detained Journalists were Daud Olatunji(Vanguard), Samuel Awoyinfa (The Punch), Ernest Nwokolo (The Nation), Abiodun Taiwo (Daily Times) , Sulaiman Fasasi (National Pilot), Wale Adelaja (TVC) and Johnson Akinpelu (Alaroye).
They were at the court premises by 11:44am to make an inquiry in respect of two suits involving victims of demolition at Pakoto community and the killing of a teenager at Oke-Ore community, which were believed to have been listed for hearing at the court.

The reporters who arrived in two vehicles, pulled up quietly and had hardly disembarked when a police orderly attached to the judge accosted them, upon identification as pressmen, the Police officer returned to his duty post.

Few minutes later, the Assistant Court Registrar (ACR), a woman, emerged inquiring about the reporters’ mission and demanded to see a letter of authority from the Chief Judge or a senior judicial officer permitting them to enter the court premises.

All attempts to persuade the registrar that, as journalists, they were in the court to carry out their constitutionally-guaranteed duties and, therefore, needed no permission, were disregarded. She dashed to the judge and came back later to inform the journalists that the judge had ordered their arrest.

The journalists got to know later that the registrar had misinformed the judge that they were filming the entire court premises. For three hours (11:45am to 2:44pm), the reporters were detained inside the administrative wing of the court.

But a snake from the bushy court premises bit one of the male judicial staff, forcing the judge to release the journalists after reprimanding them.



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