PEPC: Atiku, PDP want live broadcast of proceedings, cite national concern
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 25 poll, Atiku Abubakar, has appealed to the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to permit live broadcast of day-to-day proceedings.
Atiku and the PDP, in an application brought by lead counsel, Chris Uche, yesterday, specifically prayed for “an order, directing the court’s registry and parties on modalities for admission of media practitioners and their equipment into the courtroom.”
The application, which was dated and filed May 5, predicated, among other grounds, that “the matter before the honourable court is a dispute over outcome of the presidential election, held on February 25, 2023; a matter of national concern and public interest, involving citizens and voters in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who voted and participated in the said election, and the international community, as regards the workings of Nigeria’s electoral process.”
Atiku and the PDP contended that being a unique electoral dispute, with a peculiar constitutional dimension, it is a matter of public interest, whereof millions of Nigerian citizens and voters are stakeholders, with a constitutional right to receive.
They argued: “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 respondents include: Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); President-elect, Bola Tinubu and All Progressives Congress (APC) as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents.
At the resumed pre-hearing session in the suit, marked CA/PEPC/05/2023, the parties all asked the court to adopt and rely on their responses to questions raised on the pre-hearing information sheet.
In response to Atiku’ request for televised coverage, counsel to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respondents acknowledged receipt of the application, which they said would be responded to at the right time allowed by law.
Justice Haruna Tsammani, in his ruling, held that the motion for televised broadcast would be taken along with other motions in the suits, and thereafter adjourned to May 11.
Briefing journalists at the party’s secretariat, PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, said transparency is a very vital ingredient of democracy.
He explained: “At the pre-hearing session today (yesterday), our legal team announced the filing of a motion on notice before the PEPC, requesting live broadcast of proceedings of the court.
“This application, which is innocuous, is in the interest of openness, which is an essential ingredient of participatory democracy, especially, as Nigerians are desirous of being directly involved at every stage of the electoral process.”
The PDP called on Nigerians to remain at alert, informed and law-abiding “as we commence this crucial phase in the quest to rescue, rebuild and redirect our nation from misrule of the APC.”