Why Court Dismissed Atiku’s Request for live telecast of PEPC Proceedings

PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar
  • Issues pre-hearing report today

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja has dismissed the application by the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party ,PDP, Atiku Abubakar for live broadcast of its proceedings.

A five panel of justices of Court of Appeal said the application was novel and backed by any law upon which it could rely to rule otherwise.

Atiku and it’s sponsor the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who are challenging the declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as winner of February 25,2023 presidential election had in their application sought approval for live broadcast of the court proceedings.

They had in the application specifically prayed the court for “An order Directing the Court’s Registry and the parties on modalities for admission of Media Practitioners and their Equipment into the courtroom.”

But the Court ruled that the request was novel and not supported with any law in the country for now and no provision was made for live coverage of PEPC proceedings in the Practices Direction issued by President of Court of Appeal.

Presiding Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani who delivered the unanimous decision of five man panel said that the request was not rooted from the petition Atiku filed before the Court.

Justice Tsammani also said that the request was capable of turning the Court into a stadium or market square and that such must not be allowed for now.

Besides, Justice Tsammani further ruled that granting live telecast of the proceedings of the petition would not add any totalitarian value to the petition.

According to presiding Justice Tsammani the application for live broadcast of the court proceeding had no merit and “it is hereby dismissed”.

PEPC said on Monday that it will issue it’s pre-hearing report tomorrow,May 23, 2023 and end the pre -hearing session.

The court further appealed for cooperation from the lead counsel just as counsel representing the parties expressed diverse views on the need for consolidation of petitions.

Prof Awa Kalu counsel to Peter Obi, referred the court to its decision on AA Vs INEC where Paragraphs 50 to the Schedule was considered . He observed that the court had ruled that the said paragraph 50 vested it with discretion to decide whether or not to consolidate the three surviving petitions.

The counsel said that “the discretion of the court must be exercised judicially and judiciously, taking the totality of parties to the petitions.” Kalu said that his legal team will require 6 or 7 weeks to present his case .

But the court interjected that time was not on it side, “if we decide not to consolidate how do we manage it?

The court noted that to allow such a request, means the proceedings will drag to September leaving the court with just four days to write its judgment as the petition would elapse on September 16, 2023.

Kalu said that a report they intend to tender may shorten their length of time to 14 days. He further told the court that INEC has not made available to them the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) they required for their case.

But counsel for INEC Kemi Pinherio SAN said that “whatever is in the BVAS has been made available to the petitioner. We have transferred the Presidential Election records to the back server on the order of this court. The only record left in the BVAS is the governorship election.”

Presiding Justice Tsammani said the court has taken time to seek cooperation and agreement of counsel because it did not want to be seen as fostering time frame on petitioners. He said “that once we issued our time frame all parties are bound by it.”