By Innocent Anaba
Lagos—There was drama at an Igbosere magistrate’s court, Lagos, last Friday, when a presiding magistrate, Mr. H. O. Amos, ordered a journalist, Onozure Dania of Vanguard, out of his court “for not obtaining his permission before entering his court.”
The magistrate was hearing an application by a surety, Mr. Gbenga Badmos, who had applied to withdraw from standing as surety for a defendant, Mr. Akindele Afolabi, who is the former holder of a power of attorney for the Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu Estate.
In the course of proceedings, the court registrar informed Amos that there was a journalist in court and Amos, who has a reputation for barring journalists from his court, abruptly stopped the proceedings and asked the journalist to identify herself.
Court: Who are you?
Dania: I am a journalist.
Court: What is your interest in this matter?
Journalist: I have no interest in the matter. I cover the judiciary and that is why I am here. I understand that the court is a public place and anybody can come and get whatever information he or she needs.
Court: Did you take permission from me before entering the court?
Journalist: I don’t need to take permission as the court is a public place. I cover even the high courts and I have never been asked if I took permission before covering proceedings in the high court.
Court: I agree that the court is a public place, but you did not get my permission before entering the court? You think you can just come into the court and start writing whatever you like? If you want to write anything from this court, I must veto it before it is published.
Journalist: You cannot veto my story before publication.
Court: Then walk out of my court.
Earlier, Badmos, who was seeking to withdraw from the matter as a surety, said that the reason for his withdrawal is that he no longer has confidence in the defendant and that the defendant had already procured travelling documents and plans to leave Nigeria as he has been granted a two-year visa.
Afolabi, 48, was arraigned alongside one Alhaji Adio Kazeem, 79, on August 11, 2014, over alleged forcible possession and impersonation.
They are standing trial on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forcible entering, forcible possession, impersonation, breach of peace and threat, preferred against them by the police.
Afolabi and others at large, between July 6, 2004 and January 2014, at 29, Agege Motor Road, Lagos and 3, Eniola Street, Idioro, Mushin, Lagos, allegedly conspired and unlawfully entered a property belonging to one Mr. Samuel Odumale and Ademola Adegbuyi, in a conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
The prosecutor, Inspector Haruna Ibrahim, said that Afolabi illegally mobilised others still at large to forcefully take over the aforesaid building located at the two addresses above.
He said that on January 6, 2014, Afolabi threatened Wale Odekhiran with a text message and demanded for the property located on 19, Agege Motor Road, Idi-Oro, Lagos.
According to him, Afolabi on December 8, 2013, wilfully and without a lawful excuse enter into Redeemed Christian Church of God, Holiness Temple Parish on 16, Koboti Street, Alakara, Idi-Oro, Lagos and Jesus Head Stone Evangelical Ministry at Olaniyi Close, Idi-Oro Lagos, to disturb the services of the two churches by demanding a ransom.
Afolabi was also alleged to have impersonated as the lawful attorney of Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu family, a representation he knew to be false.
The offences committed, the prosecutor said, are punishable under Sections 410,52, 166 (d), 300, 126, and 378 (1) (2) ýof the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2011.