The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja will continue hearing on petitions filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar; the Labour Party and its presidential candidate Peter Obi challenging the outcome of the presidential election on today (Friday).
The court will also hear application by LP and Obi for live broadcast of the proceedings.
At the resumed pre-hearing on Friday, the tribunal reserved ruling in the application filed PDP and Atiku Abubakar for a live broadcast of the tribunal’s proceedings of its petition.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, the presiding judge of the Tribunal reserved ruling, at a later date to be decided by the court, after lawyers of the respective respondents and petitioners made their arguments and submissions on the application.
The legal team of Atiku, led by Chris Uche had field a motion dated 5th May and filed May 7, praying for an order of the court, allowing the television of the proceedings of its petition.
Atiku and his political party, the PDP, are specifically praying the tribunal for “An order Directing the Court’s Registry and the parties on modalities for admission of Media Practitioners and their Equipment into the courtroom.”
The tribunal had adjourned till May 18 for the continuation of the pre-hearing session on Atiku’s petition and the application for live broadcast.
At the pre-hearing session on Thursday, Justice Tsammani said the court would deliver its ruling after hearing the motion for live broadcast from the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi.
All respondents including INEC, APC and Tinubu have filed their counter affidavit , opposing the application. They argued that the application for live broadcast is outside the jurisdiction and competence of the tribunal, adding that the issues raised touches on policy formulation.
The respondents have also filed application asking the tribunal to dismiss the petition for lack of merit.
Uche, Atiku’s counsel told the tribunal that his team have filed their reply to all the counter affidavit, he prayed the court to grant the application. He argued that the petitioners did not include statutory provision against the application petition in all their arguments.
He said the respondents are only trying trivialise the matter, and prayed the judge to consider passionately the application for live broadcast in the interest of Nigerians.
“All we are saying is, if the results of the election were not transmitted live. at least let the proceedings be transmitted in real time” he said.
Earlier, he informed the tribunal that pursuant to the agreement of the understanding before the adjournment, all parties met to reconcile and harmonise documents, and Parties agreed that all electoral materials certified by INEC will be tendered without objection , either from the bar or through witness.
Counsel to APC, Abubakar Mahmoud, told the tribunal that it filed a 14-paragraph counter affidavit, dated 13th May opposing the application for live broadcast.
He argued that bringing in cameras into the court room will defeat the solemn atmosphere of the court, and put lawyers under more pressure.
“The court room is for serious business. Uche said it would bring more commitment and seriousness, I beg to disagree, we are more serious and committed. We don’t want to be put under additional pressure with cameras beaming in our face. We want to work in a solemn atmosphere. We urge your lordship to refuse this application, it is unnecessary, uncalled for”, it said.
Counsel to Tinubu, Wole Olanipekun, urged the court to dismiss the application without much ado. He argued that an area court can’t even make the judgement.
He also argued that live broadcast may put layers at risk. “What of the dangers inherent in exposing the lawyers, these are not the best of times for the profession”, he said.
Lateef Fagbemi, counsel to APC, argued that there is a difference between public trial and trail in public.
After lawyers argued for and against the application, justice Tsammani reserved judgement and adjourned Atiku’s petition to Friday May 19.
The adjournment is to enable parties streamline the number of witnesses.
“Decision will be taken on how to streamline the number of witnesses. Time will also be allocated for examination and cross-examination,” the Justice said.
Justice Tsammani at the pre hearing session on Thursday also adjourned the continuation of pre-hearing of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) to Monday, May 22, 2023.
The APM wants the tribunal to declare that Tinubu’s substitution of APC’s initial placeholder VP candidate, Kabir Masari, with Shettima, is illegal and contradicts electoral procedures.
The respondents in the petition are INEC, APC, Tinubu, Kashim Shettima and Kabiru Masari.
The justice also reserved rulings in separate motions filed by INEC, APC, and Tinubu, challenging APM’s petition. Lawyers representing the APC, Tinubu, Shettima and Masari, filed separate applications calling for dismissal of the petition for lacking in merit and want of jurisdiction.
But Abubakar, the petitioner’s lawyer, countered all the respondents and urged the court to dismiss all their applications against his petition.