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Something to Hide? Tinubu Opposes Motion for Live Broadcast of Election Petition Proceedings

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LAGOS, Nigeria — The legal team of President-elect Bola Tinubu and his Vice, Kashim Shettima, have firmly rejected the request by their closest rival, Atiku Abubakar, and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to live broadcast the election petition proceedings.

The application, described as an “abuse of the processes of this honourable court,” was swiftly opposed by Tinubu’s legal team, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun on Wednesday, May 17, 2023.

The request was viewed as an infringement on the court’s jurisdiction, thus warranting its dismissal.

“With much respect to the petitioners, the motion is an abuse of the processes of this honourable court,” the respondents said in their counter affidavit.

They argued that the application was not relevant to the petition filed by the PDP and was outside the jurisdiction of the Presidential Election Petition Court, PEPC, as constituted.

According to the counter affidavit, the application “touches on the administrative functions, which are exclusively reserved for the President of the Court of Appeal,” and is seen as “dissipating the precious judicial time of this honourable court.”

The respondents criticized the applicants’ invocation of COVID-19 pandemic protocols allowing virtual proceedings, arguing that the PDP failed to note that those were exceptional circumstances guided by practice directions from the courts.

“The position of the law remains, and we do submit that the court, like nature, does not make an order in vain, or an order which is incapable of enforcement,” they stated, concluding that the application was “academic, very otiose, very unnecessary, very time-wasting, most unusual and most unexpected.”

They further clarified their interpretation of the term “public” as applied under Section 36(3) of the Constitution, noting that it refers to a place where members of the public have unhindered access, not necessarily to a broadcast audience.

Tinubu’s legal team underscored the importance of the court remaining a “serene, disciplined, hallowed, tranquil, honourable and decorous institution and place,” rather than a platform for public entertainment.

As the political climate continues to heat up, these recent developments underscore the intensity of Nigeria’s political landscape and the challenges of maintaining a transparent democratic process amid sharply divided factions.

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