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You cannot bar journalists from court, they’re part of proceeding – Judge tells Lawyer

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Justice Adeyemi Fasanmi of the Ondo State High Court on Thursday turned down the request of a lawyer, Steve Adebowale who had asked that journalists who came to cover the trial of two civil servants be barred from court.

The suspects are facing trial for their involvement in the stealing of a baby in the state.

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The lawyer who is the Counsel to one of the defendants, Sarumi Adeyemi said, his client and the other defendant, Orisamehin Florence Bosede had been subjected to scandals by the press alleging they had been found culpable of the crime.

The two senior government officials of the Ondo State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development were docked for allegedly stealing and selling a baby delivered by a mentally challenged woman, Deborah Iretioluwa Olorundare.

They were arraigned before the court on a two-count charge bothering on conspiracy to commit felony and child stealing.

The Counsel who questioned why journalists brought cameras to cover the proceedings said “The press cannot constitute itself to an alternative court. The defendants have been embarrassed.”

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While justifying that journalists do not need permission to be present at any court proceeding, Justice Fasanmi said even at the Supreme Court, there are seats reserved for journalists known as ‘press gallery.’

Emphasising that the case deserved public attention, the Judge told the lawyer that if his clients were maligned by the press, he should sue them.

Justice Fasanmi maintained that he cannot stop the press from coming to court,”I don’t have to know if the press is here. The court does not work on speculation. You have not directed my attention to any adverse publication on this case.”

However, the defendants, pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them.

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The trial on the case could not commence even when the Prosecuting Counsel, Bunmi Koyenikan, informed the court that three witnesses were present because of items requested by the defence Counsel.

The Defence Counsel had requested a report of the Police and DSS that indicated prima facie case against the defendants, a list of documents and materials intended to be relied upon against the defendants and a statement of each and every witness which the prosecution intended to call or rely upon against the defendants.

Justice Fasanmi, however, granted the defendants bail to the sum of N1m and one surety in like sum, who must be a civil servant from level the rank of level 13, adding that the defendants have one week to perfect their bail condition.

The judge subsequently adjourned the case to January 18, 2022, for commencement of trial

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