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Journalists Held After Osun Court Hearing

Court Adjourns Bail Hearing for Park Official, Threatens Security Concerns

by Victor Adetimilehin

A tense situation unfolded Tuesday at the Federal High Court in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. Journalists covering a bail hearing for Olalekan Oyeyemi, a controversial figure known as “Emir,” were held hostage within the court premises by suspected hoodlums following the adjournment.

Oyeyemi, a member of the Osun Park Management System, faces a ten-count indictment including conspiracy, vandalism, unlawful killings, and terrorism charges. He pleaded not guilty, and his defense attorney filed a bail application on March 13, 2024, following the withdrawal of an earlier application.

The prosecution, however, opposed the bail request, arguing that Olalekan Oyeyemi posed a flight risk. Justice N. Ayo-Emmanuel did not issue a ruling on the bail applications at the hearing’s conclusion, postponing the decision until a later date.

High Drama in the Courtroom

The incident took a dramatic turn after the judge adjourned the proceedings. A group of suspected hoodlums, who had gathered outside the courtroom throughout the hearing, reportedly identified and threatened some of the journalists present.

The journalists involved could not leave the premises for about 40 minutes after adjournment, until some police operatives deployed to the premises escorted them out of the court, as the suspected hoodlums, who converged under a tree outside the court, were ordered to vacate the area by a female police operative.

This incident raises concerns about press freedom and journalist safety in Nigeria. Reporters play a vital role in holding institutions accountable and informing the public. Any attempt to intimidate or threaten journalists undermines democratic principles.

The Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the incident, calling for a thorough investigation to identify and apprehend those responsible. The NUJ also urged law enforcement to prioritize the safety of journalists, particularly when covering potentially volatile situations.

Uncertainties and Calls for Justice

The fate of Olalekan Oyeyemi’s bail application remains uncertain as the court has yet to issue a ruling. Meanwhile, the incident highlights the need for heightened security measures at court proceedings, especially those involving high-profile or sensitive cases.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has also weighed in, urging the court to ensure a fair and transparent trial process. The NBA emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of all parties involved.

While tensions remain high, authorities have a responsibility to ensure a peaceful resolution to this case. This includes guaranteeing the safety of journalists and upholding the principles of free press in Nigeria.

Source: Punch

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