On 28 November, 2020, the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution of Victims of SARS Related Abuses, issued a Witness Summons on the Cable News Network Inc. (CNN) and its Team of Reporters to appear before it on Saturday, 12 December, 2020, to give evidence on their reportage of the #EndSARS Lekki shooting.
Upon service of the summons on CNN’s Lawyers, Messrs. Olumide Babalola LP, the international news outfit instructed their Lawyers to file an objection, on the ground that the Panel lacks jurisdiction to summon them since they are not in Nigeria. From the objection dated 4th December, 2020 but filed on 9th December, 2020 at the Tribunal on behalf of CNN, Olumide Babalola submitted that:
“The Objectors herewith place it on record that, they were not at all material times and still not at the time of filing this objection, within the geographical territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They do not have any physical or business presence in Nigeria and by extension, they are outside the territorial jurisdiction of this Honourable Tribunal.
“The Objectors respectfully observe that, the Summons to Witness dated 28 November, 2020 was issued pursuant to the Tribunal’s powers donated by Section 5(c) of Tribunals of Inquiry Law of Lagos State, Cap. T6.”
On the Panel’s jurisdiction, he contended that “Flowing from the above authorities, we submit that, since the Objectors are not “persons in Nigeria” as envisaged by the provision of Section 5(c), 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).
When the Panel sat on Saturday, 12 December, 2020, they invited CNN’s Lawyer into the Private Hearing Room where he reiterated his objection, and the Panel informed him that they would record the objection in their final report, hence CNN was excused from further proceedings or appearing before the