The Head of the Household of God Church International and former presidential candidate, Chris Okotie, was so uncomfortable with journalists reporting his involvement in a suit that he asked the judge to chase journalists away from the court room, PREMIUM TIMES reports.
The reverend stated this to a Lagos Magistrate Court Judge on Wednesday during a trial between him and a former member of his church.
Mr. Okotie is accusing Dafiaghor Okiotor, 40, a former keyboardist in the church, of blackmail and intimidation and trying to extort N39 million from him.
Mr. Okiotor, however, stated that the flamboyant head of the church owed him after he played the keyboard and produced music for the church for 14 years.
The accused had consistently debunked claims that he was a volunteer at the church, adding that he had a “private arrangement” with Mr. Okotie.
Okotie seeks journalists exit
As the trial continued on Wednesday, Mr. Okotie asked the magistrate to tell the reporters to “excuse’ them from the court.
“Your Honour, there are journalists in the court recording the proceedings. We would be obliged if they can be excused from the court,” said Kola Dopamu, who was holding brief for Mr. Okotie at the trial.
Robert Igbinedion, Mr. Okiotor’s counsel, demanded to know the reasons for asking the journalists to leave.
“What issue does it go to? You cannot eat your cake and have it. You were the ones who brought us to court. The court is a public place and setting where everybody, lawyers, journalists and even passersby come to unhindered as long as they don’t disrupt the proceedings,” Mr. Igbinedion said.
Oshodi Makanjuola, the magistrate, ignored the defence lawyer and told the journalists to “leave her court.”
“I know your people (journalists) are always around the court premises but why are you in this particular court proceeding?” Mrs. Makanjuola asked the journalists. “What is so special about this case that you want to cover the case? Please leave the court room.”
The magistrate also shouted at Mr. Igbinedion, who tried to oppose the order.
“Excuse me, I will not allow you to talk. I do not want journalists in my court. This is my court and I run it the way I so please. Who are you that journalists should be coming to cover your case? What nonsense!”