The Chief Judge of Federal Capital Territory Abuja Hon. Justice Isiyaku Usman Bello has said that the independence of the media does not in any way mean that the press can relay news regardless of truth or intent.
Justice Bello who made this known in his paper presentation at the first public lecture titled; “The Role of Media in the Administration of Justice” organized by the Zaria Correspondents Forum at the Assembly Hall of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He said, it is important for the media to consciously strive to report the truth knowing that the right to freedom of expression also carried duties and responsibilities of significant and equal importance.
According to him, journalists must act with diligence and a high degree of responsibility by ascertaining the accuracy of their facts before putting it out for public consumption.
“The role of media in the administration of justice is of prime importance in any society, our inclusive”, when this is juxtaposed with the fundamental aim of the administration of justice which is the sustenance of rule of law, we can conclusively say that, the media is a critical agent in the attainment of free, just and egalitarian society.
“Where there is no publicity, there is no justice, publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spurs to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity. It keeps the judge himself while trying under trial”
Justice Bello also advised media to at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
He said, the media has a genuine role to play in investigating and criticizing poor and inept leadership promote political stability, economic prosperity and social justice, but advised on any reports on judiciary and its activities should be fair, unbiased and without conclusion.
“The media has an enormous responsibility to see that the new they present about justice delivery is accurate and serve the interest of the people and the court system. If the media metamorphoses into a force for the conveyance of false news and sensational reportage ongoing trials, this may harm the reputation of the courts of the individuals involved in the case and end up doing irreparable damage to the justice system’s reputation”
The FCT Chief Judge, advised media houses where non-lawyers are employed as court reporters such a reporter should undergo a basic training in law to bring him up to speed with the Nigerian legal system and legal methods; this will enable him understand and use appropriately, basic terms like the plaintiff, defendant, accused and prosecutor so that they will be able to captivate their reads with the focal point of a matter before the court.
He said another innovation which have already implemented at the FCT High Court is the creation of an information required by the press can be easily accessed through an appropriate officer.
Hon. Justice Isiyaku Usman Bello urged members of the press to abstain from imputing improper motives to the decision of courts in particular and the activities of other stakeholders in the administration of justice in general.
“Every institution is liable to be abused and every liberty overstepped if uncontrolled. The same applies to the core justice institutions and the media so, hand in hand both must work to see that truth prevails at all times to prevent disorder or mayhem”.