Judge detains seven journalists, frees them three hours later

Seven journalists practising in Ogun State were on Tuesday arrested and detained at the Ota High court premises for the better part of the day on the orders of a judge (name withheld) attached to the State High Court 1.

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).

The journalists 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 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 from anybody, having failed, 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. During the period one of them, who was having stomach upset, almost fainted.

But a poisonous snake that emerged from the bushy court premises which bit one of the male judicial staff forced the judge to release the journalists after reprimanding them.

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