The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called for the live broadcasts of court hearings on election petitions across the country, particularly the presidential election cases.
The NBA made this call in a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, on 23 March. The communique jointly signed by the NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau, and its general secretary, Adesina Adegbite, was released on Thursday.
It said, with the confidence of Nigerians in the judiciary at its lowest ebb, broadcasting the hearings of election petitions live would help to to regain lost public trust.
“In view of the fact that public perception of the judiciary plays a key role in the public acceptance of its decisions, and to help boost the confidence of the public in the judiciary, which is currently at an all-time low, NEC, upon the proposal by the President, unanimously passes the resolution calling for live broadcast of the proceedings of the election petition courts and tribunals, particularly for the presidential election, by volunteering media houses,” the communique read in part.
Losing candidates in court
With the general elections now over and results declared in the majority of them, many losing candidates across party lines and levels of elections have filed petitions to challenge the outcomes. While the presidential and the National Assembly elections were held on 25 February, the governorship and House of Assembly elections were held on 18 March.
First among the first set of aggrieved contestants to approach the court were the presidential candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and Labour Party, Peter Obi.
They are both displeased with the outcome of the 25 February presidential election which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared was won by Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The petitioners alleged that the election was marred by widespread irregularities, including delay in uploading the polling units results with the Bimodal Verification and Accreditation System (BVAS) to INEC server.
But they have both called on the Presidential Election Petition Court in Abuja to declare them the winners of the election, or cancel it outright to pave the way for a fresh poll.
Many candidates who lost their National Assembly, governorship and state House of Assembly elections, have similarly rejected the results declared by INEC.
Many election petition tribunals in different states have reportedly received the petitions of losing candidates and their parties.
With Nigeria switching from balloting to the election petition phase, many Nigerians have expressed lack of confidence in the nation’s judiciary.
A former NBA president, Olisa Agbakoba, condemned some recent decisions of the Supreme Court which he said made the law unpredictable and eroded public confidence.
Many governorship and presidential election petitions filed so far are not likely to end until the final pronouncement of the Supreme Court.
More reasons why live broadcast should be adopted
NBA said live broadcasts of the proceedings of the election petition courts and tribunals “will give citizens the opportunity to follow the proceedings, have better knowledge of the facts and an understanding of the reasoning behind decisions of the courts in those matters”.
It said in its communique it would help citizens to know “particularly how the Electoral Act and other applicable laws are applied to election petition matters.”
There are hardly live broadcasts of court sessions in Nigeria, due to the conservative nature of the country’s judiciary.
NBA condemns electoral violence in Lagos
The NBA condemned incidents of violence and “voters intimidation” during the recent elections in Lagos.
It demanded “the arrest and prosecution of identified electoral offenders.”
Meanwhile, the communique revealed that NBA NEC approved a proposal “for the introduction of a new NBA Stamp with improved security features and car stickers with QR code for lawyers.”
The proposal birthed by NBA general secretary, Adesina Adegbite, will “stem quackery within the profession,” the communique said.
The association also said it exempted senior lawyers who are 70 years and above from Annual General Conference Fees, in furtherance of its welfare policy.
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