▪Carpets Tribunal for rejecting request for televised hearing of proceedings
▪Says secret hearing usurpation of media rights, anti-democratic
Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Tuesday, raised the alarm over plot by the All Progressives Congress-led government to declare a public holiday on May 26, the date fixed by the Supreme Court to decide whether it would nullify the victory of APC presidential candidate in the February 25 election, Bola Tinubu, for alleged double nomination.
HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, also carpeted the Presidential Election Petition Court which refused a request for a live broadcast of its proceedings, stating that the application by the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party lacked merit.
The group said the decision of the five-member panel of the court headed by Justice Haruna Tsammani was anti-democratic and anti-press freedom as enshrined in Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.
HURIWA also said televised proceedings were not alien as the justices painted it, adding that it was a standard practice overseas where fairness and transparency were the orders of the day.
The group backed the Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, who warned against the dangers of electoral malpractices, saying that rather than the politicians, the masses felt the direct impact of a rigged election.
The cleric was on point by also joining in the call for live broadcast of Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, saying it should not be “like a secret meeting”, because the voters needed to follow up on how their votes were being defended.
HURIWA argued that televised proceedings would remove any doubts about the transparency of the judiciary and promote fairness. The group hinted that the fact that the APC and Tinubu are against live broadcast of proceedings show the grand plot about to be hatched in the whole charade.
The Supreme Court is about to decide Tinubu’s fate on Friday as the PDP is seeking the disqualification of the President-elect, Tinubu and the Vice-President-elect, Senator Kashim Shettima, over alleged double nomination; an act which they say violates the electoral laws.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The plot by those in power to declare Friday, May 26 as a public holiday is an attempt to frustrate the judgement of the Supreme Court over the candidacy of Tinubu and Shettima as it is clear that Shettima was already a Senatorial candidate before he was nominated as VP candidate and he did not renounce the former before accepting the latter.
“President Muhammadu Buhari who have a few days in office should not subvert the will of the people by dancing to the tunes of anti-democratic forces by declaring a public holiday on Friday.
“Also, the rejection of televised proceedings by the presidential tribunal is a declaration of war against the voters of Nigeria who would have loved to follow through what is going on in the tribunal. The Tribunal has missed a historical moment to rescue the judiciary from public opprobrium and restore trust and confidence in the judiciary. The decision of the justices will promote secrecy and darkness and only evils are perpetrated in secrecy.
“The Tribunal’s decision is against Section 22 of the Nigerian Constitution which states that the press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold fundamental human rights and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.