THE President-elect, Bola Tinubu, has rejected the request by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for a live broadcast of election petition proceedings.
Describing the request as an “abuse of the processes of court”, Tinubu, through his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun, asked the Presidential Election Petition Court to dismiss the application. He argued that the relief sought by the applicants was not such that the court could grant.
Tinubu responded to Atiku and PDP’s request request for live telecast of the tribunal’s proceedings through a written address presented by Olanipekun on Wednesday, May 17.
On May 8, the PDP and Atiku filed an application requesting live coverage of the tribunal’s proceedings.
They asked 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”.
They described the election petition as a matter of public interest, with millions of Nigerian citizens and voters as stakeholders with a constitutional right to receive information.
“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,” the application filed by Atiku and the PDP said.
However, in his response to the application, Tinubu, through his lawyers, led by Olanipekun, asked the court to reject the request, arguing that the court should not be made “an arena for public entertainment”.
In the written address, Olanipekun noted that Atiku and the PDP failed to acknowledge the practice directions issued by the respective courts to facilitate such proceedings.
“The application also touches on the powers and jurisdiction invested in the President of the Court of Appeal by the Constitution, over which this honourable court as presently constituted cannot entertain.
“The application touches on the administrative functions exclusively reserved for the President of the Court of Appeal. The application is aimed at dissipating the precious judicial time of this honourable court.
“The said application has no bearing with the petition filed by the petitioners before this honourable court.
“It is in the interest of justice for this honourable court to dismiss the said application filed by the petitioners.
“Another angle to this very curious application is the invitation to the court to make an order that it cannot supervise.
“The position of the law remains, and we do submit that the court, like nature, does not make an order in vain, or an order which is incapable of enforcement,” the written address stated.
Olanipekun further described the application as undefined and indiscernible, noting that the court of law must remain serene and disciplined during its proceedings.
He added: “At the very best, this application is academic, very otiose, very unnecessary, very time-wasting, most unusual and most unexpected, particularly, from a set of petitioners, who should be praying for the expeditious trial of their petition.
“Petitioners have brought their application under Section 36(3) of the Constitution, which provides that the proceedings of a court/tribunal shall be held in Public.
“The word ‘Public’ as applied under Section 36(3) of the Constitution has been defined in a plethora of judicial authorities to mean a place where members of the Public have unhindered access, and the court itself, sitting behind open doors, not in the camera.
“Even in situations where a class action is presented, the particular people constituting the class being represented by the plaintiffs or petitioners are always defined in the originating process.
“Here, in this application, the public at whose behest this application has been presented is not defined, not known, not discernable.
“Beyond all these, it is our submission that the court of law must and should always remain what it is, what it should be and what it is expected to be: a serene, disciplined, hallowed, tranquil, honourable and decorous institution and place.”
Following the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election, Atiku filed a petition challenging the result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He alleged that irregularities in thousands of polling units marred the poll.
The PDP candidate asked that the court declare him Nigeria’s President-elect or nullify the election and order a rerun.
He argued that INEC’s failure to transmit the election results in real-time electronically compromised the outcome of the presidential poll.