Again, journalists with different national dailies were, on Monday, barred from covering proceeding of a panel probing a Magistrate with the Ebonyi State Judiciary, Chinedu Agama.
…. gathered that this was the second time journalists were barred from covering the panel’s sitting, after a similar incident of Thursday, February 19, 2021, when the it commenced sitting.
The Magistrate, Agama, is currently facing trial for granting the Peoples Democratic Party youth leader, in the state, Barr Obinna Iteshi, alongside two others, bail.
The PDP youth leader, it was gathered, had, upon confirmation of receipt of a Federal High Court order, which dissolved the Onyekachi Nwebonyi-led State Working Committe, allegedly moved into the party’s secretariat alongside other party members. He was arrested and charged for burglary, within one hour.
But on Monday, the Panel Chairman, Magistrate U.N.O. Nweze, while explaining the reason for barring journalists from the proceedings, said, “press men were not needed”.
He had equally said, “What we are doing here is a very small Administrative Panel to look into complaints against one of us and of course, you know in organisation like this there are some inbuilt mechanism to look into complaints against supposedly erring staff.
“So, not everything that requires to be made public in court at a stage. If it were judicial panel, probably we allow journalists to come in and cover the proceedings but this one is an in house something.
“We are a committee set up by the judicial service commission. So, we are going to report back to them. It is them that will now look at what we have done, look into it critically and take a decision.”
It was equally learnt that the embattled Magistrate, Agama, was also transferred out of the state judicial Headquarters Abakaliki to Onueke village, in the Ezza South Local Government Area of the state, by the state judicial management over the bail of the suspects.
Recall that there have been supremacy battle between the Fred Udeogu Caretaker Committee of the PDP and the dissolved Nwebonyi-led SWC of the party.
A lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the Magistrate’s trial as politically-motivated, adding the issue revolved around the crisis in the PDP, which according to him, the authorities was taking advantage of.
According to him, “The problem, you know, is a political crisis among some factions in PDP. The governor, who is fronting one Onyekachi Nwebonyi, now felt that his power has been trampled upon and all he could do was to laise with an attorney-general in the state to see that the magistrate, who granted bail within the ambit of law, is persecuted.”