The Chairman of the Code of Conduct of Tribunal, Danladi Umar, on Thursday shocked right-thinking people when he threatened to jail journalists, who “misrepresent” the ongoing proceedings on the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Mr. Umar issued the threat while reacting to what he described as some newspapers’ distortion and misrepresentation of the last Monday’s proceedings at the tribunal.
In what is seen as a move to intimidate journalists, Umar said any journalist who commits such infraction again might have to remain in prison until his retirement in 28 years’ time.
Umar said, “Henceforth, any journalist carrying concocted or discredited statement which is not adduced before this tribunal, I will not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law heavily on the person.
“The journalist will languish there (prison) and may remain there until I retire – that is about 28 years from now.
“The person will be summarily sent to prison because that is contempt.
“It does not matter whether the contempt is committed in facie curiae (before the court) or ex facie curiae (outside the court).”
Umar, who brought copies of the newspapers that published the stories he complained about, made the remarks at the beginning of Thursday’s proceedings.
CJN Onnoghen is being prosecuted before the CCT by the Federal Government on charges bothering on false and non-declaration of assets.
In a democracy, it is absurd that a judicial officer would be talking about keeping a journalist in jail for 28 years for mere misrepresentation of facts.
This apart, Mr Umar does not have such powers.
His threat could only be realized in a fascist state.