Tribunal Court To Rule On Atiku’s Live Telecast Motion, Others Monday

The Presidential Election Petitions Court has fixed May 22 to rule on the modalities for the conduct of the main hearing in the petition by the Allied Peoples Movement (APM).

The presiding justice of the court, Justice Haruna Tsammani, on Thursday adjourned the petition of the APM on the date, which is also meant to hear agreements by parties on the number of witnesses and time to be allocated for their examination and cross-examination.

Lawyers to the parties in the APM petition, INEC, APC, Tinubu, Shettima, and Kabiru Masari confirmed that they agreed not to object to any documents certified by INEC to be relied on at the trial.

The panel also reserved a ruling on the application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, for the live broadcast of the proceedings of the court.

As the pre-hearing session is set to end on Monday, the panel is also expected to rule on agreements on motions to be allowed in the main hearing as agreed by parties in the petition, which is expected to be on the same Monday.

Meanwhile, the panel has directed Atiku’s lawyers and the parties in the matter to attend the sitting on Friday to adopt their outstanding motions after those of the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

Tinubu and the APC have filed separate applications seeking to strike out paragraphs or the entire reply of Atiku to their preliminary objection where he raised fresh issues of dual citizenship and drug offenses forfeiture in the US.

Similarly, INEC, Tinubu, and APC on Thursday argued their respective motions opposing the live broadcast of the proceedings of the court.

Moving the motion on Thursday, the lead counsel to Atiku, Chris Uche (SAN), said the application was necessary because of the “monumental importance and significance” of the petition to members of the public.

He said the court should discountenance the objections to the application as it did not raise a single legislation or statute in support of their objection.

But counsel to INEC, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said the application was unnecessary, uncalled for, and defeats the aim of the court as the media already have access to proceedings.

He said any special provision for live broadcast has to come by judicial policy, which the panel as constituted could not do.

Similarly, counsel to Tinubu, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), described the application as strange because the court is not a stadium ground, theatre, or circus but a place of serious business.

He noted that the security of judges, lawyers, and witnesses could be jeopardised by the live broadcast.

Making his submission, counsel to APC, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) described the application as similar to seeking a reality TV like the ‘Big Brother Series’, adding that the petitioners did not disclose the injury they would suffer if the application was not granted.

The parties also informed the court that they would similarly be objecting to LP and Obi’s application for the live broadcast on Friday.

The panel directed that the parties must present all issues that they would be objecting to or not and the time for their witnesses during the main hearing.