Channels Television’s Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele was arrested today (Wednesday March 4, 2012) along with other Journalists covering proceedings at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on the orders of a Magistrate in the court.
The journalists were in court particularly to cover the judgment of a coroner inquiring into the cause of death arising from the August 15, 2010 ghastly accidents along the Otedola bridge end of the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway.
It will be recalled that the magistrate handling the inquest failed to give his much awaited verdict last week and instead told lawyers involved in the suit that the verdict was not ready after which he fixed today the 4th of April to deliver.
Trouble however started when a female police prosecutor in mufti simply identified as Rose and attached to one Magistrate A.A Oshoniyi of the Lagos State Judiciary accosted the journalists, raised her voice and shouted on them to vacate the court premises while they gathered for proceedings to commence on the inquest.
Attempts by the journalists to explain their mission fell on deaf ears and in the course of the exchange of words, Magistrate Oshoniyi came out of her chambers and without trying to find the cause of the noise immediately ordered the arrest of the journalists.
A female police officer with the nametag, Mariam Joseph, immediately swooped on Wale Busari, the judiciary correspondent with Silverbird Television, grabbed his cloth and started to drag him away.
His resisted and this led to other judicial staff in the magistrate’s chamber to join in the fray in order to carry out the magistrate’s order.
Magistrate Oshoniyi also ordered the seizure of the Channels Television camera as the person operating it tried to record the unfolding drama.
She subsequently asked the police orderly attached to her to get across to the police.
Within a 5min interval, police officers from the Area F police command in Ikeja swooped on the court and without asking questions pounced on some of the journalists, beating and dragging them into a police bus with number plate Lagos XJ 812 Epe.
Those beaten include Wale Busari of Silverbird Television, Wahab Abdullahi of Vanguard Newspapers, Akintunde Akinwale of Thisday Newspapers and Channels Television’s cameraman Polynous Odedeyi.
Those arrested included Journalists from the Nigerian Compass, Thisday, Leadership, Vanguard, PM News, Nigerian Tribune, and Moment Newspaper.
The scuffle continued at the Area F Police Command as the police officers further unleashed their anger on the journalist especially Wale Busari, alleging that the journalist rudely resisted arrest.
Things would have gotten messier but our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, quickly put a call to two Senior Advocates, Mr Dele Adesina and Mr. Sebastine Hon before her phone was seized.
With the intervention of the senior advocates, the matter went before the Area F Police Commander who later heard both parties and sought an amicable settlement of the matter.
The journalists were later released on the instruction of the Lagos High Court’s Chief Registrar and further intervention of the Chairman and Secretary of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja.
Meanwhile Channels Television gathered that the magistrate handling the coroners inquest has since adjourned his verdict to the 25th of April