Live broadcast of proceedings: Tribunal to rule on Atiku, PDP application

Nigerians eager to follow the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja, through live broadcast of the sitting will need to wait a little more, as the court has adjourned to rule on the application by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the February 25, poll.

Abubakar and PDP are challenging the declaration by Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as winner of the February 25, poll.

Atiku in the substantive petition, maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as winner of the presidential election was “invalid by reason of non- compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.”

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Atiku and the PDP in the application for live broadcast, are insisting that their case against Tinubu, being a unique electoral dispute with a peculiar constitutional dimension, they said it was a matter of public interest in which millions of Nigerian citizens and voters are stakeholders, with the constitutional right to be part of the proceedings.

At the hearing in the matter for live broadcast, before the court adjourned for ruling, Atiku’s counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, argued, “Election cases are suis generis and the fact that it has never been done before does not mean that it cannot be done.
“My lords should remember that there has been an Oputa panel that was televised and the nation benefited immensely from it.
“The whole nation is interested in this matter and there is no one that will be prejudiced in any way.
“If the results that we are contending before this court was not transmitted, at least, let the proceedings be transmitted.
“Granting this application will even make counsel to be more committed and regulate themselves better knowing that the eyes of the public are on what we are doing here. It is very important, for the development of the law,” Uche added.

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, PDP Presidential Candidate

INEC, through its lead counsel, Mr. Abubakar Mahmood, SAN, sought the dismissal of the application, arguing, “My lords, the courtroom is a public place that is accessible to all, subject to the availability of space.
“Moreover, live streaming is different from televising. The one that is done in the United Kingdom is strictly managed by the court itself.
“The courtroom is not for theatrics. It is for serious business and in all jurisdictions that it is done, there are clear guidelines and procedures.
“We don’t want to be put on pressure of having cameras being on our faces. The application is a matter of judicial policy that should be executed properly and not on adhoc basis. It is unnecessary, uncalled for and will defeat the essence of justice.”

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Also opposing the application, counsel to Tinubu, Chief Wole Olanipeku, SAN, urged, “The court is not a stadium. It is not a crusade ground. It is not a theater or a cinema. My lords we are not here for a circus show.

Aswaju Bola Tinubu, President-elect

“The court should not make an order that it cannot supervise. Our profession is a very sober one. The UK only recently issued a practice direction for proceedings to be televised only during sentencing.
“It is rather embarrassing that the petitioners who should be concerned about the expeditious hearing of their case, chose to bring this application,” he contended.
APC’s counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, also opposing the motion, said: “My lords if this application is not dismissed, it will get to the point where even when my lords are going to the toilet, the cameras will zoom in.
“That is what they do in the Big Brother show. The court is for serious business, so, we urge my lords to refuse the application.”
Following the submissions of counsel to parties, the Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member reserved its ruling on the application.

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