OVERVIEW OF: Probe of Ebonyi Magistrate: Journalists, others barred from covering proceeding
Journalists and lawyers were on Tuesday barred from witnessing the ongoing probe of a Magistrate attached with the Ebonyi State Judiciary, Chinedu Agama.
Recall that a 5-member panel was set up by the Ebonyi State judiciary to probe the magistrate, Agama for granting bail to the Peoples Democratic Party youth leader, in the state, Barr Obinna Iteshi, alongside two others.
But journalists were for the second time barred from covering the panel’s sitting, after a similar incident on Thursday, February 19, 2021, when it commenced sitting.
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 Committee, allegedly moved into the party’s secretariat, alongside other party members. He was arrested and charged for burglary, within one hour.
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 an organization like this, there are some inbuilt mechanisms 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 a judicial panel, probably we would 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 Judiciary 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 Judiciary Service Commission over the bail of the suspects.
Recall that there has been a supremacy battle between the Fred Udeogu leadership 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, was being taken advantage of by the authorities.
According to him, “The problem, you know, is a political crisis among some factions in PDP. Onyekachi Nwebonyi, now felt that his power has been trampled upon and all he could do was to liaise with the Attorney-General in the state to see that the magistrate, who granted bail within the ambit of law, is persecuted.”