The Cable News Network Inc. (CNN) has filed an objection to the witness summons issued by the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry, for it to appear as a witness in the Lekki Shooting incident.
The witness summons was issued on November 28.
It summoned CNN and its team of reporters to appear before the panel on Saturday, December 12, to give evidence on their reportage of the EndSARS Lekki shooting.
In the notice of objection, Olumide Babalola, the counsel to CNN, wrote to the panel that his clients are objecting to the summons on the ground that the panel lacks jurisdiction to summon them since they are not in Nigeria.
The notice of objection was filed on December 9 by Mr Babalola.
“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 notice reads.
The witness summons is following an investigation into the Lekki Shooting incident by CNN published on November 19.
The investigation revealed how security agents shot at protesters – some who held the Nigerian flag, killed some and injured several others
Several bullet shells were retrieved from the shooting scene after the incident. The panel also retrieved six bullet shells when it visited the scene two weeks after the shooting.
In the notice of objection, CNN through their counsel observed that the summons to witness dated November 28, 2020, was issued pursuant to the Tribunal’s powers donated by section 5(c) of Tribunals Of Inquiry Law Of Lagos State, Cap. T6 and for the avoidance of doubt, it provides that:
“To summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the Tribunal to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession, subject to all just exceptions. Summonses issued under this paragraph may be in Form A in the schedule to this Law and shall be served by the Police or by such person as the Tribunal may direct. (Emphasis ours)
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“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), 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. Jurisdiction, territorial or otherwise, is statutory and is conferred on the Court by the law creating.” Territorial jurisdiction may mean jurisdiction that a Court may exercise over persons residing or carrying on business within a defined area, or in respect of a contract where its terms bring it within the area,” the counsel wrote.
CNN, through its counsel, said criminal jurisdiction is territorial. Thus, jurisdiction in criminal matters in Nigeria is principally and mainly territorial.
The Objectors urged the panel to set aside the summons to witness since they are not within the jurisdiction and therefore, not compellable witnesses before the panel.