Nigerian constitutional lawyer, Tope Temokun, has raised the alarm over the Federal High Court, Abuja’s continued denial of access to the courtroom from lawyers, journalists and members of the general public.
Temokun raised the alarm over the unconstitutional practice by the court after he was denied access to the court on Monday when he arrived at the Federal High Court, Abuja but barred alongside other lawyers, newsmen and members of the public from entering the court by the operatives of the Department of the State Services (DSS).
Recall that the DSS in 2021, relying on a circular issued by the Federal High Court, dated on July 23, 2021 and titled “Media Accreditation For Nnamdi Kanu’s Trial”, launched a new regime of denying lawyers and members of the public free access to court.
Following the new regime, Temokun instituted a legal action at the Federal High Court, Abuja in the case Tope Temokun Vs DSS and Others in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1272/2021 to challenge the legality of the restriction and access denial.
Barely a year after Temokun’s suit, the lawyer recalled that while the case was still pending, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, passed a Practice Direction on Terrorism Cases, “which was just also an exercise of constitutional powers to achieve the same unconstitutional purposes of restricting access to court.
“I also instituted another action before the Federal High Court to challenge the constitutionality of the Federal High Court Practice Direction 2022 in Tope Temokun vs Honourable Justice John Tsoho (Chief Judge of the Federal High Court) and Another in a suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1060/2022.”
The cases are still pending in court and one has been scheduled for hearing on Thursday November 17, 2022, before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court Abuja.
While his suit is still pending for hearing and determination, Temokun said that “I arrived the Federal High Court Abuja today and the entire Federal High Court building was cordoned off by the DSS with all the routes leading to the court barricaded and only lawyers who could identify their case in the cause list handed over to the DSS could access the court, while the rest were turned back and even lawyers with their cases on the cause lists were subjected to checks at four checking-points mounted by operatives of the DSS where lawyers’ bags were turned inside out before they could be granted access.
“Everyone, the press, the senior lawyers and the public have learnt to accept this anomaly. I see something very very wrong in this. I see something wrong in a situation where lawyers are turned back from the court door, just because one citizen is standing trial.
“Lawyers complained and lamented, but they don’t know that lamentation does not solve any problem. What births social justice is resistance to social injustice.
“If I am the only one left to fight this, until the Supreme Court rules that shutting the court against lawyers, the press and members of the public is right in a democracy, I will fight this to the apex court.”
SOURCE: SAHARA REPORTERS
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