Why judiciary wont condemn media trial of suspects—Justice Garba

judge's wig

The presiding judge of the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice Mohammed Garba, on Thursday said the judiciary would not comment on the constitutionality or wrongness of parading criminal suspects before the media by security agencies

Justice Garba said the public would have to wait further to know the position of law on the issue until the subject-matter was submitted before a court of competent jurisdiction for determination.

“The judiciary is not self-activating, the jurisdiction of a court is only invoked when such a matter comes for judicial pronouncement and until such matter comes, the judiciary cannot do anything,” he said.

Justice Garba spoke on “Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015: Innovations, challenges and the way forward” at the annual seminar/workshop of the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents in Lagos on Thursday.

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He was represented by an Appeal Court judge, Justice Ugochukwu Ogakwu, noted that media trial is now widespread among prosecuting agencies.

His words: “Sadly, most of the agencies we have now which have both investigative and prosecutorial powers, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in particular, engage so much in media trial.

“But if they don’t blow their trumpet, nobody will blow it for them and it’s only when they blow their trumpet as to what they are doing that we’ll know that they are actually working.

“What can the judiciary do? The judiciary only works on what is brought before it.

“Unless there is a case that has been brought for judicial pronouncement, the judiciary will not make any pronouncement on whether it is wrong or not. ”

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“So, the judiciary is not self-activating, the jurisdiction of a court is only invoked when such a matter comes for judicial pronouncement and until such matter comes, the judiciary cannot do anything.”

Garba described the ACJA 2015 as commendable, adding that it contained at least 27 innovative provisions that could revolutionise justice administration.

The judge, who lamented that Nigeria appears to have the highest number of confessional statements used as basis of findings during police investigation, urged the police to do more investigation rather than waiting for a confessional statements to unravel a crime.

Besides, co-guest speaker and Managing Editor, Online and Special Publications, The Nation Newspapers, Lekan Otunfodunrin, who spoke on “Journalism in the 21st century: Opportunities and challenges,” urged journalists to keep up with technological innovations to improve their skills or risk losing their livelihoods to new media practitioners.

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“New media has disrupted the traditional journalism which most of us were trained in and have been practicing for years.

“There is the need to be alert to new developments in our profession to avoid becoming a relic,” he said.