In anticipation of the ruling on the request for live transmission of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal proceedings, there is a disagreement among the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and the All Progressives Congress (APC) regarding the necessity of media coverage.
The PDP and LP expressed their belief that broadcasting the court proceedings live would eliminate doubts about judicial transparency and promote fairness. Conversely, the APC argued that it would not contribute to the pursuit of justice.
The PDP, represented by its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar, who came second in the February 25 election behind President-elect Bola Tinubu, filed an application requesting the live broadcast of the tribunal sessions for Nigerians to have firsthand information about the process determining the authentic winner.
The LP, along with its standard bearer Peter Obi, submitted a similar application, stating that as stakeholders, Nigerians have the right to real-time information about the election petition proceedings.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the President-elect, and the APC strongly opposed the application, considering it frivolous and beyond the jurisdiction of the PEPC.
The APC counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, urged the court not to turn the proceedings into a televised spectacle. The President-elect’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, emphasized the potential dangers for judges and lawyers if the live broadcast were approved. The INEC counsel, Abubakar Mahmoud, argued that the application was unnecessary since the court is already a public place accessible to all, based on space availability.
The court reserved its ruling on the application, which was scheduled for today (Monday), after hearing arguments from all parties last Thursday.
Peter Obi insists on the live broadcast, emphasizing the importance of transparency and democracy. Obi’s media aide, Emeka Obasi, stated that given Nigeria’s population and the limited capacity of the courtroom, granting access to every interested Nigerian through live streaming is essential.
Yunusa Tanko, spokesperson for the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, highlighted that approving the live broadcast would foster trust and restore hope in the judiciary, which is currently under scrutiny.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, justified the party’s demand for live telecast, stating that participatory democracy entails providing citizens with the right to know. He highlighted the transparency of previous election processes and argued that the judicial phase should also be televised.
The media adviser to the PDP candidate, Paul Ibe, stressed that live telecast would enhance the transparency of court proceedings and is in the primary interest of Nigerians. He criticized INEC for acting as if it were a political party and urged the court to grant the request.
Supporters of the LP candidate took to social media, demanding a live broadcast of the court proceedings with hashtags such as ‘#LivebroadcastInTheCourtRoom.’ Their posts garnered significant attention.
As of the time of reporting, a petition calling for the live broadcast had received over 9,222 signatures. The petitioners argued that transparency and openness would be ensured by allowing the live coverage of the tribunal proceedings.
Festus Keyamo, Chief Spokesman for the dissolved Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, believed the matter should be left to the court’s decision and not subject to public opinion. He urged Nigerians to await the final verdict and emphasized that this is not the first time an election petition has been decided in the country.
The APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, declined to comment on the matter, stating that it is currently in court.