For allegedly misrepresenting facts in the media coverage of one of its proceedings in the ongoing trial of Nigeria’s former Head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole has threatened to charge concerned publishers and news reporters for contempt of court.
The warning followed an oral report by Mr. Oronsaye’s counsel, Ade Okeaya-Inneh (SAN) over an erroneous report in some national dailies on June 15, 2016 proceedings in which issues not mentioned in the court were published against his client.
Among other issues, the Senior Advocate wondered why it was reported that Oronsaye lodged monies in 66 bank accounts, if not to disparage his client before the public.
While noting that one of the newspapers falsely reported that the court was informed that Oronsaye and other unnamed persons, laundered the sum of N14 billion, Okeaya-Inneh noted that it was a far cry from the fact, as there was no mention of Mr. Oronsaye’s name or any link between him and the said money or illegal accounts.
In his ruling, Justice Kolawole issued a stern warning on the reportage of proceedings in the courtroom.
He said the court had the powers to charge for contempt of court, where journalists report its proceedings with the intention of misrepresenting the facts of the matter.
The matter was adjourned to the 28 of June, 2016 for continuation of ‘trial within trial’ on the extra-judicial statement of the 2nd defendant, Osarenkhoe Afe, while in EFCC’s custody.
It would be recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission dragged Nigeria’s former Head of Service, Mr. Stephen Oronsaye and four others before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court, Abuja over an amended 35-count charge bordering on alleged corruption.