CJ stops media coverage of terrorism cases
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, has released a new practice direction for the trial of terrorism cases before the court.
The cases of the leader of the Indigenous People of BIAFRA, Nnamdi Kanu, Bureau de Change operators indicted over sponsorship of terrorism, and Boko Haram suspects are currently before the court.
Justice Tsoho said the new practice direction was in the exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
Under the new arrangement, the court said media coverage of proceedings is strictly prohibited.
“Coverings of proceedings under case practice direction is strictly prohibited.
A person who contravenes an order or an direction made under these practices shall be deemed to have committed an offense contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended, the direction stated.
It added that “Only the judges, other essential court staff and security agencies involved in the particular case and their vehicles shall have access to the premises”.
Justice Tsoho said in any proceedings the court deems necessary to ensure the safety and or to protect the identity of the victim or witness, it may hold its proceedings at any place to be designated by the Chief Judge with the Code of Conduct Tribunal as the venue for the time being.
“The names, addresses, telephone numbers and identity of the victim of such offences or witnesses in the proceedings shall not be disclosed in any or report of the proceedings and it shall be sufficient to designate the names of the victims or witnesses with a combination of alphabets”, he added.
The court listed other procedure to include evidence by video link, permit the witness to be screened and masked , receive written depositions of expert witnesses and direct that all or any part of the proceedings of the court shall not be published in any manner.