Court rules against live broadcast of Election Petition proceedings

“The undue pressure of allowing cameras into the courtroom should be avoided as the impact it would have on witnesses could not be predicted."

Court rules against live broadcast of election petition proceedings

The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Monday in Abuja, rejected the request by the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar for live broadcast of proceedings of the court.

The court in a similar ruling, dismissed the application of the Labour Party, and its presidential candidate,Mr Peter Obi for live broadcast of court proceedings.

In a unanimous decision, the five-member panel led by Justice Haruna Tsammani held that the court, as constituted, did not have the powers or vires to make such an order since it was an issue of policy.

The judges held that such an order needed to be planned for ahead of time and budgeted for.

Besides the five judges agreed that both the team of Atiku and Obi did not tell the court what they stood to lose if the request was not granted.

The judges held that live televising of proceedings was not provided for in any law.

They held that the court was created to hear election petitions and anything outside of that was going beyond its scope.

The court also held that the request was novel and not supported by any law in the country presently.

Justice Tsammani also said that the request was not rooted from the petition Atiku or Obi filed before the court.

The court ruled that the request was capable of turning the court into a stadium or market square and that such must not be allowed.

Besides, Justice Tsammani held that granting the request for live telecast of the proceedings of the petitions would not add any value to the petition.

“The undue pressure of allowing cameras into the courtroom should be avoided as the impact it would have on witnesses can not be predicted.

“The court is created to find out the truth and should be allowed to do so,” Justice Tsammani said.

The judge said that in the final analysis, the petition was without merit and subsequently dismissed it.

The News Agency of Nigeria, (NAN) reports that Atiku and Obi had approached the court hearing their petition against the outcome of the Feb. 25 presidential polls for an order allowing live broadcast of the day to day proceedings.

They both said the request for live broadcast was predicated on the grounds that the petitions were of monumental importance to the nation.

Atiku and the PDP as well as Obi and the Labour Party had in their separate applications 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.

Some notable voices had also earlier called on the court to allow live broadcast of proceedings. This includes the Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who backed the call for the live broadcast of Presidential Election Petition Tribunal proceedings on Sunday.

The cleric had noted that the proceedings of the Election Tribunal should not be ‘like a secret meeting,’ because the voters needed to follow up on how their votes were being defended.