PEPC rules Monday on Obi’s, Atiku’s request for live streaming, televising of proceedings


The Justice Haruna Tsammani-led five-member Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) will on Monday delivery rulings on two applications  by Peter Obi/the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar/the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking live streaming/televising of the proceedings of the court. The court gave indication to this effect on Friday after taking arguments from lawyers to parties in the application by Obi and the LP.

The court had on Thursday,  after hearing a similar application by Atiku and the PDP, reserved ruling, which it said will be delivered same day with the one by Obi and his party, in view of the similarity of the reliefs being sought. While moving the application by Obi and his party on Friday, their lawyer, Awa Kalu (SAN) urged the court to grant the application in the interest of the public.

Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) for INEC, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) for Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettma, and Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) for the APC, moved their various counter affidavits and prayed the court to reject the application for being without merit and constituting a distraction to the court. Justice Tsammani then announced that ruling will be delivered on Monday.

He ordered that further pre-hearing session in the petition should continue on Saturday, during which the court announce the schedule of hearing of the main petition. Justice Tsammani said parties will, at Saturday’s hearing, agree on the number of witnesses to be called, time to be allocated for each witness to testify in-chief, and to be cross-examined.

Earlier, the court heard and reserved rulings in applications by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President-elect, Bola Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) seeking the dismissal of the petition by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

INEC, Tinubu and the APC are praying the court to either dismiss the petition in whole or some of its paragraphs and other accompanying processes filed by the petitioners for offending the provisions of the law.

Lawyers, who moved the applications for INEC, Tinubu and APC – Kemi Pinheiro, Yusuf Ali and Lateef Fagbemi (all Senior Advocates of Nigeria) prayed the court to grant the reliefs in their applications, seven in all. INEC filed two, Tinubu filed three, while APC filed two. Lawyer to the Atiku and the PDP, Chris Uche (SAN), in counter argument, urged the court to dismiss all the applications and proceed to hear his clients’ on the merit.

Uche faulted INEC’s application in which it prayed the court to strike out about 32 paragraphs from the petition by Atiku and the PDP, arguing that some of those paragraphs contained allegations against Tinubu, which the electoral power cannot defend. The petitioners’ lawyer contended that it did not lie with INEC to seek to defend Tinubu against allegations his clients raised in their petition, which include dual citizenship, allegiance to foreign nation and forfeiture of funds in a United States court case.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, has condemned the reaction of Peter Obi, the Labour Party (LP) Presidential candidate, to the phone conversation between the United States Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, and Nigerian’s President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Bliken had during a phone conversation last Tuesday, told Tinubu that the Joe Biden administration is committed to strengthening ties with Nigeria during Tinubu’s tenure.

But Obi, a statement on Twitter, wondered why the United States did not wait for the full resolution of the ongoing judicial processes before tacitly conferring legitimacy on any of the contending parties. According to him, the US responses to Nigeria’s affairs should be based on mutual respect, shared ideals, aspirations, and interests which ought to transcend the considerations of any individual. He added that the final determination of the true winner of the election can only be made by the relevant courts of law.

Responding to Peter in a statement on Twitter yesterday, Keyamo said there is clarity to the basis of the phone conversation between Tinubu and Blinken and their pledge for support and cooperation. The Minister said the United States is aware that in a complex society like Nigeria, Obi could not have won the 2023 election, especially with his message of religious war, adding that the US also knows that the INEC’s declaration of a winner has the force of law and Obi’s petition in court is an acceptable legal framework that is yet to be decided.

“Your Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, It’s obvious that you and your supporters have overrated your noise and tantrums after the election as having any real effect internationally. No, they have not had any such massive effect as you would wish. Unfortunately for you, the US have dealt with so many opposition figures around the world and they know exactly how to separate facts from fictions. They know you lost, fair and square. They know that in a complex society like Nigeria you could not have won with your message of ‘religious war’.

“They know you’re just a splinter of the main opposition, the PDP, so it amounts to delusions of grandeur to think that you won when you actually came third. Recall, sir, that when you won your second term in office as Governor of Anambra State, your opponents were in the Tribunal when you were sworn in and you got congratulatory messages from across Nigeria and the world.

“Did you reject those congratulatory messages because your opponents were in court? Why are you now misleading these largely hapless mob trooping blindly after you? Why? As you are going about with this pretentious holier-than-thou attitude, a court of law just nullified the nomination of a number of your Party’s candidates at the last election. Are you not more worried about this development, even as it affects your own nomination as the Labour Party’s Presidential candidate?,” Keyamo tweeted.

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