The President-elect Bola Tinubu, and the Vice President-elect Kashim Shettima, have stated that the application by Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a live broadcast of proceedings at the election petition tribunal is frivolous and a bid to waste the court’s time.
The application was made by presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, who earlier argued that holding public proceedings is in line with the “crucial components of the court’s constitutional obligation.”
Tinubu and Shettma on Monday urged the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) to dismiss the application, noting that the court is not a soapbox, stadium or theatre where the public should be entertained.
“With much respect to the petitioners, the motion is an abuse of the processes of this honourable court,” the respondents stated.
This was contained in a joint response filed on Monday by their team of lawyers, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), wondering why a petitioner desirous of a prompt hearing would file an application intended solely to distract the court and waste its precious time.
They argued that the relief sought by the applicants are not such that the court could grant, while stating in the counter affidavit that the application relates to policy formulation of the court, which is outside the PEPC’s jurisdiction as constituted.
“The application also touches on the powers and jurisdiction invested in the President of the Court of Appeal by the Constitution, over which this honourable court as presently constituted cannot entertain.
“The application touches on the administrative functions, which are exclusively reserved for the President of the Court of Appeal.
“The application is aimed at dissipating the precious judicial time of this honourable court.
“The said application does not have any bearing with the petition filed by the petitioners before this honourable court.
“It is in the interest of justice for this honourable court to dismiss the said application filed by the petitioners,” they said.
In an attached written address, the respondents faulted the applicants’ reference to the fact that virtual proceedings were allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They argued that Atiku and his party failed to draw the court’s attention to the fact that practice directions were made by the respective courts for the exercise.
They also noted that it was only the heads of courts, rather than individual judges or Justices, who drafted the practice directions.
“Another angle to this very curious application is the invitation it extends to the court to make an order that it cannot supervise.
“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,” the respondents stated.
Tinubu and Shettma added: “At the very best, this application is academic, very otiose, very unnecessary, very time-wasting, most unusual and most unexpected, particularly, from a set of petitioners, who should be praying for the expeditious trial of their petition.
“Petitioners have brought their application under Section 36(3) of the Constitution which provides that the proceedings of a court/tribunal shall be held in public.
“The word ‘public’ as applied under Section 36(3) of the Constitution has been defined in a plethora of judicial authorities to mean a place where members of the public have unhindered access, and the court itself, sitting behind opened doors, not in camera.
“Even in situations where a class action is presented, the particular people constituting the class being represented by the plaintiffs or petitioners are always defined in the originating process.
“Here, in this application, the public at whose behest this application has been presented is not defined, not known, not discernable.
“Beyond all these, it is our submission that the court of law must and should always remain what it is, what it should be and what it is expected to be: a serene, disciplined, hallowed, tranquil, honourable and decorous institution and place.
“It is not a rostrum or a soapbox. It is not also a stadium or theatre. It is not an arena for ‘public’ entertainment.
“With much respect to the petitioners, the motion is an abuse of the processes of this honourable court.”