By Zubairu Idris
Katsina – The Chief Judge of Katsina State, Justice Musa Danladi, has decried the rate in which “armchair lawyers” are using the social media to give wrong interpretations on legal issues in the country.
Danladi made the observation on Tuesday in Katsina during the opening of a two-day capacity building training for court reporters in Katsina State.
The workshop was organized by Journalists for Accountability Good Governance Initiative (JAGGI) in collaboration with Katsina State High Court of Justice.
“Prejudicial reporting has had detrimental effects on numerous cases, particularly on high profile cases.
“Additionally, non traditional media commentators such as armchair lawyers on social media platforms have sprung up in abundance.
“These individuals, comment and report on legal issues and cases under the guise of reportage.
“No doubt they are exercising their rights to free speech and wish to make their views known after reading about the law online.
“Unfortunately, their views are usually skewed because of misunderstanding of the law due to the risks of those views being developed through the incomplete legal information found online.
“Their interests is to report only legal issues that will generate hot debate on their blog, thereby serving their personal interests rather than for public good and public interests,” he said.
The CJ said that unlike investigative journalism, armchair reporting is more likely to be detrimental to the public which may subsequently use this potentially biased and unreliable information.
Danladi said that the aim of the workshop was to improve the skills and capacity of Court Reporters to appreciate their responsibility of accurate reporting of happenings in courts.
“Judicial reporting requires specialized skills so as to avoid miscarriage of Justice and avoid prejudicial reporting that may cause damage, harm, injury or bring disrepute on one party in favor of another,” he said.
Danladi therefore urged journalists to intensify efforts in reporting court cases to prevent “citizen journalists” from using social media to distort the reality.
In his remarks, the JAGGI Coordinator, Mr Lawal Saidu, observed that courts were becoming victims of fake news reporting by both conventional and social media users.
“If we make our judges, courts and judgements as subject of ridicule through our reporting, surely, we are moving our society on the path of chaos and anarchy,” he said.
Saidu said that the workshop was part of the group’s contribution to ensure professionalism in court reporting.