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Federal High Court Bars Media, Others From Terrorism Trials

There will be no more media coverage for cases bordering on terrorism, the Federal High Court of Nigeria has said.

The court’s Chief Information Officer, Dr Catherine Christopher, announced this in a statement on Thursday while outlining FHC’s new practice directions.

Terrorism proceedings, according to the statement, will be conducted in secret except when the Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho, grants permission for media coverage.

It stated that terrorism proceedings will hold at any place to be designated by the chief judge and in the case of the Abuja Judicial Division, the venue, for the time being, would be the premises of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

“The Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, in exercise of his constitutional powers as enshrined in Section 254 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all other powers enabling him, hereby made the following practice directions,” the statement read.

“These practice directions seek to provide measures that will ensure the security and safety of parties, personnel of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, as well as members of the general public while ensuring expeditious and fair trial of persons suspected of having committed acts of terrorism.

“Proceedings of offences of terrorism, subject to the provisions of Section 232 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended), shall be held in camera or as may be ordered by the court.”

The court warned that anyone who contravenes an order or direction made under the practice directions would be deemed to have committed an offence contrary to Section 34(5) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (as amended).

It said the perimeters of the court sitting over a terrorism trial would be secured for the period of the trial for the safety of litigants and court officials, while distance and size of perimeters to be secured for the trial would be determined based on the recommendation of security agencies on a case-by-case basis.

The court stressed that nobody would be allowed within the secured perimeters, except the approved court officials, parties, and a number of pre-registered legal practitioners on either side, witnesses, and any other person as may be directed by the judge or the most senior judge in the given circumstances.


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