Nigeria: Magistrate Bars Journalists from Covering Case

A presiding magistrate at a Magistrates’ Court in Lagos, Nigeria on February 8, 2016, ordered journalists out of his court and demanded written permission before they can access the courtroom to cover proceedings.

According to, the order from the Magistrate, H.O. Amos, was in support of the registrar who had ordered the journalists out of the courtroom, moments earlier.

The reports say “immediately the court rose after presiding over an alleged £20,000 theft case, the registrar approached the reporters asking if they were parties in the case.”

When the journalists reportedly replied that they were not parties, the registrar asked them to leave. “It’s just that I did not know. I would not have allowed you people in. Journalists are not allowed to cover this court”, the registrar yelled, adding “You are not welcome here.”

The reports say the journalists insisted that the court was a public place and so they had the right to be there. While the reporters were arguing with the registrar, the presiding Magistrate, H.O. Amos emerged from his chamber and also ordered the journalists to leave the courtroom.

 “What I am saying is that for journalists to enter and cover my court, you must bring a written approval from the Chief Registrar, otherwise, you are not allowed,” the Margistrate is reported to have said. “Even if you have been covering this court for years and matters like this have been addressed, you can only be permitted in my court when you bring written approval from the Chief Registrar,” said Magistrate Amos.

Journalists in West Africa face many obstacles in their line of duty. Sometimes these obstacles are as a result of state institutions which should be respecting and protecting journalists in their work. Security agencies and courts continue to be among the most frequent perpetrators of this violation.

The MFWA urges the judicial authorities in Nigeria to intervene and ensure that journalists are not humiliated by court officials nor barred from carrying out their legitimate duties.

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