American media house, Cable News Network, has shunned a summons issued on it to appear before the Lagos State Panel of Judicial Inquiry probing the alleged killing of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate, Lagos on the night of October 20.
The foreign media house contended that it does not fall under the territorial jurisdiction of the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel to warrant being summoned to appear before the panel.
The CNN had, in a two-part report backed with pictures and video clips, implicated the Nigerian Army in the alleged killing of peaceful protesters at the Lekki tollgate.
But the Federal Government condemned the CNN report, describing it as irresponsible, while the Nigerian Army denied shooting at or killing protesters.
In an objection filed through their lawyer, Olumide Babalola, the CNN, its reporter, Stephanie Busari, and her team, said the November 28 summons issued on them was invalid as they were not within the geographical territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and do not have any physical or business presence in Nigeria.
“We submit that since the objectors are not ‘persons in Nigeria’ as envisaged by the provision of Section 5(c) of the Tribunals of Inquiry Law Of Lagos State, Cap. T6, then this Honourable Tribunal is, with respect, bereft of territorial jurisdiction to compel their attendance to give evidence before it.
“We rely on the decision in Joshua Dariye v Federal Republic of Nigeria (2015) LPELR-24398(SC), where the Supreme Court of Nigeria held that: Territorial jurisdiction implies a geographical area within which the authority of the court may be exercised and outside which the Court has no power to act,” Babalola said.
The lawyer urged the panel to withdraw the summons issued on his clients and to instead, watch the CNN report on the Lekki shootings.
He said, “The objectors respectfully refer the tribunal to the link for the published version of the story as reported on their website, ‘How a bloody night of bullets quashed a young protest movement’ to aid the tribunal’s fact-finding mission.”
Also speaking with The PUNCH on Saturday, Babalola said on the invitation of the panel to its private hearing room at the Lagos Court of Arbitration in Lekki, met the panel and reiterated CNN’s objection to the summons.
He said the panel eventually agreed to excuse CNN from appearing to testify before it, noting that it would record the objection in its final report.