The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, has charged all journalists covering court proceedings in Lagos State to see objectivity and thoroughness in the investigation of stories as a virtue.
Justice Alogba gave the charge while hosting members of the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC), during a courtesy visit to his office at Ikeja High Court.
He implored them to be upright in discharging their duties, while covering court proceedings.
The Lagos CJ said: “In so far as we have something to do with each other, it is absolutely necessary that we collaborate. To my mind, that’s the best way we can both serve the public more effectively because you (journalist) would want to disseminate information about what we are doing.
“I want to start by saying that, traditionally, the bench is a publicity-shy institution. Publicity-shy in the sense that the kind of business that we do isn’t such that we want to tell the whole world except where it’s in the public interest.
“This is because, in most cases, except for criminal matters, what we do relates to personal relationships; be it chieftaincy, land, fundamental human rights, probate or divorce matters. These things mainly arise from interpersonal relationships which have gone soar one way or the other.
“So naturally, it is not in our place to begin to bring this dirty linen to the public domain freely as some would expect. Except where it becomes very necessary that the public should be aware.
“But even in such cases, the court has to consider so many interests that would be involved. For example, if there are sexual offences being tried and you might think that it is not necessary to protect the alleged offender. But until someone is found guilty, you cannot ascribe guilt to him. So rather, we call him the alleged offender.
“So taking that for a simple example, if someone is being tried for such an offense and then we allow everyone to prowl on such information. What if, at the end of the day, the man is set free. Everything that has gone out of the public how much can you recall for him?
“Because now he comes back to the society as a free person but he would have lost a lot about his reputation which could affect so many aspects of his life as well.
“But I can assure you, that under my watch, information would not be denied you (journalists) because I don’t think my predecessors have been doing that and neither would my administration.”