Atiku, PDP want PEPC proceedings to be broadcast livefor public interest
The runner up in the February 25,2023 Presidential Election the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar have approached the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) hearing his case against the outcome of the February 25 presidential polls, seeking an order allowing live broadcast of the day to day proceedings of his petition.
Atiku and the PDP in an application dated May 5, is specifically praying the tribunal 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 application filed on their behalf by their team of lawyers led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, is predicated amongst other grounds that: The matter before the Honourable Court is a dispute over the outcome of the Presidential Election held on 25th February 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”.
They 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.
“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 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), had in its communique at the end of its National Executive Committee meeting in Birnin Kebbi March 23 called urged the judiciary to allow for live broadcast of court hearings on election petition, particularly the presidential election cases.
Also, a group, under the aegis of Leaders of Thoughts and Legal Icons, had supported the initiative. To this end, the group had invited Nigerians to sign up on an appeal on commonbliceng, a non-partisan online platform, in support of the initiative.
Similarly, leading human rights lawyer, Femi Falana and key leaders of thought of Project Nigeria Movement (PNM), a body of eminent leaders of thought in the country, led by foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze have backed calls for live broadcast of election petition trials.
In the same vein, former Director General of Nigeria Television Authority and communications scholar, Prof Tonnie Iredia had in an incisive published paper called for televising election petition proceedings in Nigeria in the interest of national concern and public interest, as envisaged by the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).
The court has not fix date for hearing in the fresh application.
BVAS fails to transmit Presidential election results, INEC’s ad-hoc staff tells Court
The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) deployed for February 25 general election failed to transmit the results of the Presidential election, two INEC’s ad-hoc staff told Presidential Election Petition Court.
Mr. Friday Egwuma and Grace Timothy the two ad-hoc staff who served as Presiding officers in polling units in Abia State and Plateau State told the court on Thursday that presidential election results were not transmitted from polling Units after the results were recorded, snapped, and entered,
Both of them testified under subpoena as Atiku witnesses. They further told the court that the BVAS machine allocated to them developed a system error immediately after the results of the Senate and House of Representatives held same time and venue were transmitted.
In their subpoena evidence, the two workers of the electoral body explained that they had to resort to other means of getting the results through when it became clear that the BVAS machines would not help them.
Egwuma was a Presiding Officer in a polling unit in Abia State while Grace Timothy served INEC in Plateau State.
Apart from the failure of the BVAS machines to transmit the presidential election results, the two witnesses admitted that voting went smoothly in their respective places of work.
They were led in evidence by Atiku’s lead counsel Chief Chris Uche, SAN. However
under cross-examination by Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who stood for the electoral body, Egwuma explained that he resorted to the offline system in place of the BVAS machines.
In her own, Grace Timothy told the Court that the greatest challenge she experienced during the election was the uploading of the presidential election results into the I- rev portal.
The witnesses were also cross-examined by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN who stood for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who represented the All Progressives Congress APC.
Early yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, Bola Tinubu, and APC had vehemently kicked against the bid by Atiku to have the INEC ad-hoc staff testify in the petition challenging the declaration of Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu’s lead counsel Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN objected to the tendering of statement on oath of the witnesses at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in aid of Atiku’s petition.
The respondent argued that the statements of the ad-hoc staff were not front-loaded at the time of filing their petition
He asked the Court to reject the witnesses and discountenance their statements on the grounds that they violated the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
Tinubu’s arguments against the subpoenaed witnesses were adopted by Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN who stood for the APC and Abubakar Mahmoud SAN who appeared for INEC.
Atiku’s lead counsel, Chris Uche SAN asked the Court to dismiss the objections on the grounds that they were utterly misplaced and misconceived.
Uche argued that the objections by Tinubu, APC, and INEC were deliberate ploy designed to delay proceedings.
The senior lawyer insisted that the statements of the subpoenaed witnesses could not have been front-loaded along with the petition because they have not been summoned at the time of filing the petition.
He asked the Court to discountenance the objections of the three respondents and hold that they are not regular or additional witnesses envisaged in the law cited by Olanipekun. The council said that it would be a denial of a fair hearing to bar a witness under subpoena from testifying when the respondents have the right to cross-examine the witness.
The presiding Justice Tsammani stood down the matter for a ruling but on resumption, Justice Tsammani announced that ruling in the objections had been reserved till the judgment date.
The court directed the petitioner’s lawyer to proceed with his subpoenaed witness testimony.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the petition has been shifted to June 9
Two Reasons I’m Supporting Akpabio to be Senate President – Ndume
Ali Ndume has revealed why he’s supporting Senator Godswill Akpabio to become the next Senate President. Ndume who represents Borno South, spoke during an interview on Politics Today, a Channels Television programme, on Wednesday. Ndume said it is because Akpabio is the preferred candidate of President Bola Tinubu. Tinubu has also asked Ndume to lead Akpabio’s campaign and ensure he becomes the number three citizen.“There are so many that contributed to my reason to stand for Akpabio, because one the president had interest and had Akpabio as his preferred candidate and number two, he had the confidence of asking me to lead the campaign.“Most importantly, it is about justice, about equity, about the constitution and doing what is right and standing for what is justful for this country,” Ndume said. Even though the All Progressives Congress (APC) has chosen Akpabio to be senate president, the likes of Abdulaziz Yari, a former governor of Zamfara, and Orji Uzor Kalu, chief whip of the senate, have insisted on contesting the position.
Democracy Day: FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday
To commemorate Democracy Day, the Federal Government has declared Monday, June 12, 2023, a public holiday.In a statement issued Thursday in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, Dr Oluwatoyin Akinlade who made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, congratulated all Nigerians on the occasion.She said; “Nigeria’s democratic journey has, like in many other climes, encountered both stormy and smooth sails, but the ship of State, it’s institutions and most importantly, the Nigerian people have remained steadfast on the tenets of democratic governance.“On this memorable occasion therefore, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria are invited to appreciate the progress that has been made, celebrate the milestones covered and look forward to a better future for the country’s democracy.“The Permanent Secretary wishes all Nigerians a Happy Democracy Day celebration”.
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