Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the president-elect, has objected to the proposal for a live broadcast of the daily proceedings of petitions trying to void his election.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president and PDP candidate for president in the election that took place on February 25, requested in a petition dated May 5 that the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, located in Abuja, allow its proceedings to be televised.
Atiku, who finished second in the presidential election, said that the case he filed against the President-elect was “a matter of national concern and public interest” via the assistance of a legal team led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN.
In his defence, he claimed that the lawsuit addressed the interests of the electorates and inhabitants of the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja, who he claimed had cast ballots and taken part in the presidential election.
As an unusual electoral dispute with an unusual constitutional dimension, Atiku and the PDP insisted that their case against Tinubu was one of public interest in which millions of Nigerian citizens and voters are stakeholders and have the constitutional right to participate in the proceedings.
Peter Obi, a candidate for the Labour Party, LP, who also filed a petition to contest the election’s results, has recently backed Atiku’s demand.
However, Tinubu and the APC asked the court to reject Atiku’s motion because they believed it to be an abuse of the legal system in separate court documents they submitted.
In a counter-affidavit he filed with Kashim Shettima, the Vice President-elect, Tinubu accused Atiku of purposefully aiming to bring the judiciary into disrepute.
The court, in their words, “is neither a rostrum or a soapbox. It is not also a theatre or a stadium. It does not serve as a venue for general entertainment.
The respondents insisted that Atiku’s request had nothing to do with the petition and was just intended to waste the court’s time.
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They emphasised that Atiku was unaware that the officially issued practise guideline by the President of the Court of Appeal supported the virtual court system that was implemented during the Covid-19 outbreak.
APC continued to oppose the proposal by claiming that permitting live broadcasting of the hearings “would negate the protection granted to witnesses, expose them to unwarranted condemnation, and place them in a hazardous situation.
The APC said, even as it asked the court to deny the motion in the interest of justice, that “televising of election tribunal proceedings (live) will only cause unnecessary tension, violence, and unrest among the public, which may lead to breach of peace”.
The pre-hearing session for Atiku’s case was set to continue on Thursday, according to the five-member panel chaired by Justice Haruna Tsammani.