A journalist from Champion Newspapers, Arinze Nwafor, faced the brunt of Justice Latifat Oluyemi of the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja, for covering a proceeding in her courtroom without permission.
The incident occurred after the judge had delivered a ruling on an interlocutory injunction application filed by a group of aggrieved traders from the Mile 12 market against the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.
During the proceeding, the judge dismissed the application based on some anomalies surrounding the writ of summons.
Specifically, Justice Oluyemi said the writ was not properly signed, and some sections of the documents were not visible for reading. She subsequently advised the parties to reach an amicable resolution to their dispute.
However, the ruling did not sit well with the counsel of the aggrieved traders, and other lawyers in the court expressed their surprise as to why the judge disregarded the merits of the parties’ application and raised an entirely new issue suo moto.
As the proceedings were underway and journalists were present in the courtroom, the trial judge asked the journalist in question to step into the dock and questioned him about recording the proceedings without permission.
The journalist admitted to using a writing pad and pen to record the proceedings but did not notify or seek permission from the judge beforehand.
In response to the journalist’s actions, the judge ordered him to remain in the dock for the rest of the day and hear all the proceedings of the court since he wanted to record the proceedings.
This mild drama caused a stir, and after the proceedings, the counsel to the aggrieved traders, Gbolahan Quadri, noted that the dismissal of their application based on an unexplained and previously unmentioned defect disregards the fundamental principles of justice. He also expressed concern about the integrity and fairness of the judicial process.
The respondents in the suit include Ikosi/Isheri Local Council Development Area, Dr Chris Onyekachi, Total Value Integrated Services Limited, and Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development.
The application was initiated by the Incorporated Trustees of Orirere Community Leaders and Traders Association, Precious Ojo, Alhaji Akinwale Jimoh, and Babatunde Adetula.
Dr Chris Onyekachi and his company, Total Value Integrated Services Limited, have been involved in several cases relating to the demolition of markets in Lagos. A recent such case is the ongoing demolition of the white sand market in Oyingbo before Justice Idowu Akinkunmi.