Don’t overrate your authority, NUJ tells CCT chair
The Nigerian Union of Journalist, NUJ, has replied the chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Umar, not to overrate his authority over his threat to jail journalists.
According to the union, the tribunal boss has no powers to imprison journalists carrying out their official assignment.
Umar had threatened to imprison journalists who failed to accurate report the ongoing trial of suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen.
The CCT chair had while reacting to what he described as “distortion and misrepresentation” of last Monday’s proceedings by some newspapers, threatened that any journalist who commits such infraction again might have to remain in prison until his retirement in 28 years’ time.
He said, “Henceforth, any journalist carrying concocted or discredited statement which is not adduced before this tribunal, I will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law heavily on the person.
“The journalist will languish there (prison) and may remain there until I retire in about 28 years from now. The person will be summarily sent to prison because that is contempt. It does not matter whether the contempt is committed in facie curiae (before the court) or ex facie curiae (outside the court),” he said.
But reacting, chairman, NUJ FCT Council, Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche, dismissed the CCT chairman’s threat and asked journalists to continue to discharge their duties without fear or favour.
“It is unfortunate what is ascribed to the CCT Chairman, Danladi Umar. I do not think any journalist is misrepresenting the proceedings of the court as alleged by Justice Umar.
“He lacks the powers to send any journalist to prison for carrying out their constitutional duties to the nation.
“Just as the judge is carrying out his official duties, journalists are also constitutionally empowered to report what is going on in the court rooms,” Ogbeche said.
The council boss warned judges not to attempt to make journalists scapegoats in the show of power between the executive and judiciary.