You’re citing outdated law against Atiku’s live coverage request, PEPC tells Tinubu’s lawyer
The Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) on Thursday in Abuja told Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, lead counsel to Bola Ahmed Tinubu that he was citing an old law against the request by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku for live coverage of proceedings of the court.
Chairman of the court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani drew the attention of Olanipekun to a portion of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers being wrongfully cited to justify Tinubu’s opposition to live coverage of proceedings in Atiku’s petition.
At Thursday’s proceedings, Tinubu, APC, and INEC had separately kicked against the request by Atiku for live coverage of the proceedings of the court to engender public trust and confidence in the court.
Atiku through his lead counsel, Chief Chris Uche, SAN, had cited the monumental importance of the petition nationally and internationally to back up his demand for a live telecast of the proceedings.
But in his bid to justify his vehement opposition, Olanipekun had cited Paragraph 4.6 of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers which he claimed prohibited judicial officers from broadcasting, or televising proceedings during a court session
He cited the disputed law following the submissions by Chris Uche, that there was no law or statute barring live telecast of court proceedings at the moment.
As Olanipekun was about to read the portion of the law, Justice Tsammani cut in and told the legal luminary that he was citing the wrong law.
Justice Tsammani told Olanipekun that the portion he was citing to justify his arguments against live coverage had been amended and the portion being cited had been deleted completely.
The chairman of the court maintained that the portion being claimed by Olanipekun was no longer in the new Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers.
While making a case for a live broadcast of Atiku’s petition, Uche had drawn the attention of the court to Justice Oputa Panel of Inquiry which was telecast live and hailed all around in the country.
The senior lawyer said that none of the respondents would be prejudiced if the petition is broadcast live.
Specifically, he said that there was no single law or statute against the live broadcast of court proceedings adding that the fact that it has never been done before should not be misconstrued to mean that it cannot be done this time.
His submission drew thunderous applause from the crowd who clapped for some minutes before the court announced that clapping was not allowed in courtrooms.
Tinubu in his objections raised by his counsel said that Atiku’s request was not only surprising but dangerous as it is capable of prejudicing the court itself.
Olanipekun said that the request for live coverage is capable of turning the court into a football stadium, a crusade ground, a theatre, or film grounds where all manners of telecast could be permitted.
The senior lawyer said that the court should not grant an order that cannot be enforced or supervised, adding that the present moment is not the best time for such a request to be granted.
Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, who opposed on behalf of APC faulted the request, adding that the facility and policy documents are not there for the application to be granted.
Fagbemi insisted that Atiku did not deserve to be granted the request.
The electoral body in its objections by its counsel, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, SAN, said that the courtroom is for serious business and not a marketplace where anything goes, adding that the request for live coverage is unnecessary and uncalled for and should not be granted.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the court, Justice Haruna Simon Tsammani has adjourned ruling on the matter to a date that would be communicated to the parties.