In a recent development, the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) in Abuja has denied the request to televise the day-to-day proceedings regarding the petitions challenging the outcome of the 2023 presidential election. The court, led by Justice Haruna Tsammani, dismissed the application made by the two major candidates contesting the election results, which were held on February 25.
The court cited the absence of a regulatory framework or policy direction that would permit such a request. It emphasized that allowing cameras in the courtroom is a significant judicial policy that must be supported by the law. Justice Tsammani stated, “We cannot permit a situation that may lead to dramatization of our proceedings.”
The court also noted that the request for televised proceedings was not part of any relief sought in the petitions. It regarded the application as based on sentimental claims rather than establishing how televising the proceedings would advance the petitioners’ case. The court concluded that live broadcasting would not contribute any utilitarian value to the determination of the petitions.
The initial request for live coverage came from Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who secured the second position in the election. Subsequently, Mr. Peter Obi, the candidate of the Labour Party, also supported the demand for live broadcast of the court proceedings.
Atiku and the PDP argued that the case was of national concern and public interest, affecting citizens and voters across the country. They emphasized the need for transparency and public confidence in the justice system, considering the technological advancements and the court’s adoption of electronic procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the APC itself filed separate processes opposing the application. They claimed that the request was an abuse of the legal process and aimed at undermining the judiciary’s integrity.
Tinubu and the APC argued that the court was not a platform for public entertainment or an arena for public trials. They emphasized that the virtual court system adopted during the pandemic had its administrative practice direction and that Atiku’s request had no bearing on the petition. They urged the court to dismiss the application, asserting that it was time-wasting and unnecessary.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also opposed the live broadcast of the proceedings.
The court, considering these arguments, ultimately dismissed the request for televised proceedings, highlighting the need for adherence to established practice directions and maintaining the dignity and serenity of the court. The focus remains on the determination of the petitions and ensuring a fair and just resolution to the electoral dispute.