As the Presidential Election Petition Court, starts pre-hearing today, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, have filed an application for an order to allow live coverage of day-to-day proceedings on the case they brought against the President-elect, Bola Tinubu.
Atiku, who came second in the presidential election held on February 25, in the motion through his team of lawyers led by Chris Uche, SAN, specifically applied 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 PDP candidate and former Vice President contended that the petition he lodged against the President-elect, was “a matter of national concern and public interest.”
He argued that the case involved citizens and the electorate in the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who he said voted and participated in the presidential poll.
He drew the attention of the court to the fact that the International Community was equally interested in issues pertaining to Nigeria’s electoral process.
Atiku and PDP in the motion argued that their case against Tinubu, being a unique electoral dispute with a peculiar constitutional dimension, was a matter of public interest in which millions of Nigerian citizens and voters, who are stakeholders, with the constitutional right to be part of the proceedings.
They are contending that, “With the huge and tremendous technological advances and developments in Nigeria and beyond, including the current trend by this 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 court, and will enhance public confidence”, the petitioners added.
Atiku in his joint petition with the PDP, prayed the court to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to Tinubu by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He maintained that the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the presidential election was “invalid by reason of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022.”
However, in a reply through his team of lawyers led by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Tinubu, queried the legal competence of petitions seeking to invalidate his election victory.
In a preliminary objection he entered before the court, Tinubu, described Atiku as a consistent serial loser that had since 1993, crisscrossed different political parties, in search of power.
It will be recalled that INEC had on March 1, announced Tinubu as the winner of the presidential poll, ahead of 17 other candidates that contested the election.
It declared that Tinubu scored a total of 8,794,726 votes to defeat Atiku who polled a total of 6,984,520 votes and Obi who came third with a total of 6,101,533 votes.
Aside from Atiku and the PDP, the Labour Party, LP, and its candidate, Mr Peter Obi, who came third in the election, are equal before the court to nullify Tinubu’s election.