The National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), Lagos branch, has appealed to all heads of court, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the president, Court of Appeal, the president, National Industrial Court, the Chief Judge of Federal High Court and Chief Judges of the 36 states as well as stakeholders in the justice sector to assist in the provisions of press centres in all the courts across the country.
The association in a letter to the CJN and other heads of court across the country, signed by its chairman, Peter Fowoyo, stated that the rules of the court during the Covid-19 pandemic and the constraint of space are preventing journalists from effectively covering the judiciary beat.
According to NAJUC, “while this may not be deliberate on the part of the judiciary, we must urgently address the issue so as to preserve the constitutional role of the media viz-a-viz that of the third arm of government. Now is the time for both to work as partners in progress for a better society, both working together in harmony.”
The association further commiserated with the judiciary over losses incurred during the EndSARS protest where the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, Lagos High Court and the Chief Magistrates Court, Igbosere were burnt by hoodlums.
“As an association, we remain grateful to the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal for providing a press centre, where journalists from different media organisations converge on a daily basis to write and file stories to their medium. We thank immensely, the Deputy Court Registrar, Mrs Rashidat Rasheed, who has always received us into her office as an association.
“This press centre, unfortunately, refurbished with the sum of N12 million and commissioned by a representative of the Deputy Court Registrar (DCR) in October 2019, was among several other offices and buildings set ablaze by the hoodlums. Some of the items lost to the inferno include furniture, computers, internet facility, air conditioners, fridge, television and other valuables, to mention a few.
“Our courts, in the 21st century are built without press centres and press galleries for journalists assigned to the judiciary beat. It is against this backdrop that we appeal to your Lordships to consider the inclusion of press centres in all the courts across the country.
“We are not unmindful of your efforts, even in the face of intimidation and unnecessary interference by the executive arm, to ensure justice is dispensed without fear or favour, and at an improved timeframe, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic. We dare to say, it can be improved upon! Be rest assured of our continued cooperation and commitment towards a symbiotic relationship that has hitherto existed between the judiciary and the media,” judiciary correspondents said.