Mrs Falilat Orire, Secretary of Anambra Elections Tribunal sitting in Awka, has said she was under stern instruction not to disclose the names of the judges in the three-man panel in the state.
Orire disclosed this to no fewer than 10 journalists who covered proceedings at the tribunal and requested the names of the chairman and members of the tribunal for proper attributions in her office on Wednesday.
She said she was constrained to disclose the names as she was barred from doing so by the national headquarters of Court of Appeal.
“No, I cannot give you their names because we are under instruction not to give them to you.
“Try and understand me on this, just use Chairman, Member 1 and Member 2 in your reports.
“If it is so important, please write an application and let me present it for approval before I can give you the judges names,” Orire said.
The journalists expressed surprise at the revelation and wondered why names of tribunal members presiding over election matters would be an issue of secrecy.
A reporter with a national newspaper said he had covered tribunal in Anambra since 2003 and had never had problems with information that would enable him discharge his duty effectively.
He said it was unethical in journalism practice to use Chairman, Member 1 or Member 2 or panel 1, panel 2 or panel 3 to identify judges in mainstream reporting.
On his part, Mike also of a national newspaper, said the secretary was simply endangering the journalists and pitting them against their employers.
Mike called on the Court of Appeal to confirm the position of the secretary and act accordingly if there was no more than the journalists were told.
“Journalists cannot go hunting for information about the names of Judges after covering a case as if it is an official secret.
“If the secretary in charge of the three panels refuses to tell us the names, then all may not be well,” he said.
Even the intervention of the Mr Emmanuel Ndukuba, Chairman of the Correspondents Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra council did not yield a positive result.
Ndukuba, who introduced himself, said the action amounted to denying journalists access to information and against the Freedom of Information Act.
He said journalists might have to abandon proceedings at the tribunal if the secretary would not assist them to do their job well.
“I am surprised at this development, normally introduction of judges are done at inaugural sitting but we were not notified by the secretary, we are not even aware if it was done.
“Our colleagues in other states are reporting with the names of Judges, so why should the secretary in Anambra tell us she is under instruction not to disclose the names of Judges here? (NAN)