Nigeria: Six journalists briefly detained while covering court proceedings

Six journalists were detained at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) for two hours on 7 June for alleged “unlawful coverage of court proceedings” and were forced to delete the pictures they had taken.  The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns this arbitrary detention which represents an act of intimidation from the Nigerian judiciary on journalists covering public interest trials.

According to local reports, judge Chizoba Orji said that journalists must get written permission to be allowed to inform about proceedings in her court.

 “She ordered to seize the phone of Wumi Obabori, a judiciary correspondent from the African Independent Television (AIT) and to delete the pictures and videos on her phone,”,local sources reported. Five other court reporters, namely Godwin Tsa of the Sun Newspaper, Ikechukwu Nnochiri of Vanguard Newspaper, Austin Okezie of Raypower FM and Charles Ozoemena were escorted out of the Courtroom.

 The journalists present at the courtroom tried to explain to the judge that journalists can take pictures if the court is not in session, but the judge ordered the arrest of the journalists. A police officer in the room drew his weapon and ordered the journalists to surrender their phones and delete all the video footage and pictures they had taken.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said. “Journalists must be allowed to carry out their professional duties in the public interest without intimidation and harassment. It is especially worrying that a judge ignores and doesn't respect the role of journalists and prevents them from doing their job. The IFJ calls on the Nigerian judiciary to stop intimidating journalists.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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