Group writes CJN, seeks live broadcasts of court proceedings

Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed; Photo: Mahmud Mohammed

The Citizens’ Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) has called on the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) to allow live radio and television broadcasts of court proceedings in the country.

The call is contained in a letter signed by Frank Tietie, the Executive Director of CASER, and addressed to the CJN.

A copy of the letter, dated Feb. 26, was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.

CASER said the call became necessary in view of rising public consciousness of “the role of the courts in ensuring justice, public order and the future stability of Nigeria.’’

It added that the call was also necessary against the backdrop of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign being championed by President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

It argued that by the provisions of the amended Constitution, live broadcasts of court proceedings especially those bordering on corruption, electoral fraud and terrorism should be the norm and general rule.

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CASER said, “It has become pertinent at this stage of our national life to raise the standard of justice delivery and its impact on the social development of the nation.

“To this end, we most humbly urge Your Lordship to allow live broadcasts of court proceedings to the citizenry.

“This is in furtherance of the intendment of Section 36 subsections 3 and 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“The role of the courts in ensuring justice, public order and the future stability of Nigeria has now begun to take a prominent place in the minds of the citizenry.

“This is at the background of a heightened anti-corruption campaign by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.’’

It noted that granting majority of the citizenry wider access to court proceedings through live broadcasts would enhance the social engineering function of the law “in a developing society as ours’’.

According to CASER, the interpretation of Section 36 subsections 3 and 4 of the Constitution includes allowing live radio or televised broadcasts of court proceedings.

“Thus, it should be the norm and general rule that court proceedings, especially criminal proceedings such as cases of corruption, electoral fraud with violence and terrorism, be broadcast live in Nigeria.

“This is not being unmindful of Section 36 (4) (a) which serves to provide for the seven grounds of exception that can be invoked upon application or in obvious circumstances.

“We, therefore, hope that by this request, you would consider and give approval for live broadcasts of court proceedings in Nigerian courts,’’ it said.

The letter was copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; the Inspector-General of Police; the Director-General, Department of State Services and the Executive Secretary, National Human Rights Commission.

Others include the Minister of Information; the President of the Court of Appeal; the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; the Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission and the President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists. (NAN)

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