Election Dispute: Give me time to react to Atiku's request for live coverage - Tinubu tells Tribunal - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Election Dispute: Give me time to react to Atiku's request for live coverage - Tinubu tells Tribunal

The Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned to enable the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to respond to an application seeking an order to allow live coverage of day-to-day proceedings on petitions seeking to nullify his election.

The application, dated May 5, was brought before the court by a former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the presidential election that held on February 25, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku, who came second in the presidential election, had through his team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, urged the court to grant permission for proceedings in the petition he lodged to challenge the return of Tinubu as winner of the election, to be televised.

He specifically applied for; "An order, directing the Court's Registry and the parties on modalities for admission of Media Practitioners and their Equipments into the courtroom".

The PDP candidate contended that the petition he lodged against the President-elect, was "a matter of national concern and public interest".

He argued that the case involved citizens and electorates in the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who he said voted and participated in the presidential poll.

More so, he drew attention of the court to the fact that the International Community is equally interested on issues pertaining to Nigeria’s electoral process. 

Atiku and the PDP insisted 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.

"An integral part of the constitutional duty of the Court to hold proceedings in public is a discretion to allow public access to proceedings either physically or by electronic means.  

"With the huge and tremendous technological advances and developments in Nigeria and beyond, including the current trend by this Honourable Court towards embracing electronic procedures, virtual hearing and electronic filing, a departure from the Rules to allow a regulated televising of the proceedings in this matter is in consonance with the maxim that justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.

"Televising court proceedings is not alien to this Honourable Court, and will enhance public confidence", the petitioners added. 

When the matter was called on Tuesday, Uche, SAN, prayed the court to grant the application which he described as "innocuous and harmless".

In his response, Tinubu, through his lead counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, while confirming receipt of the application, said he would need time to respond to it.

"My Lords, my immediate response is that he will hear from us within the time allowed by the rules," Fagbemi, SAN, added. 

Likewise, counsel that represented the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN, noted that the petitioners served him with the on Monday.

"We are taking steps to respond appropriately to the application within the time permitted by rules of this court," he stated. 

Earlier, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also confirmed that it was served with the application. 

"We were served yesterday and we will need time to respond. We will take instructions from the 1st Respondent (INEC) and respond appropriately. We are still within time to respond," INEC's lawyer, Mr. A. B. Mahmood, SAN, submitted.

Meanwhile, the Justice Haruna Tsanammi-led five-member panel adjourned further pre-hearing proceedings on Atiku's petition till Thursday.

It ordered all the parties to sort out all the documents they would either concede to or object to, as well as key issues to be considered with respect to the petition. 

The court held that it would hear the application for live coverage of its proceedings, once all the Respondents file their responses.

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