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Presidential election tribunal warns against media analyses of cases


The President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, has threatened to deal with lawyers, petitioners and the media found analysing in the media any petition before the presidential election tribunal.

Mrs Bulkachuwa said any lawyer found analysing a case after a court sitting would be liable to being dealt with by the appellate court.

She gave the warning at the inaugural session of the tribunal on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the Court of Appeal President, such analyses tend to jeopardise the matter before the tribunal.

“We are witnesses to what is happening in high profile cases where such cases are being discussed and publicly decided prematurely, both in the social and electronic media before the announcement of the verdict in court.

“We pray that this time there would be an exception for the benefit of the nation. We don’t expect counsel to any of the parties to heat up the polity after any sitting by making a public analysis in the media as to what transpired in court.

“This admonition is also extended to the parties, their respective counsel and the Lamberts of the press. We on our part will make relevant information available as at when due. Any breach will not be condoned and we will not hesitate in taking action against offenders,” Ms Bulkachuwa said.

She added that the election tribunals have been established in all the states of the federation, except for Jigawa state where no petition has been filed.

Mrs Bulkachuwa further said 786 petitions are before the various tribunals, with those from Imo State topping the list with 74 petitions.

The tribunal began hearing in four major petitions intended to be treated at the court. The court fixed the dates for the hearing of three of the petitions while no date has yet been given for the fourth.

The court fixed May 14 for hearing the petition by Hope Democratic Party against the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC)

The petition by the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was slated for hearing on May 15 and 16, respectively.

Another petition brought by the Coalition for Change is billed to be heard on May 20.

The court declined to give a date for hearing the petition from the Peoples Democratic Movement.

The presidential tribunal is expected to determine the cases, including the petition brought by the candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, who has alleged that the election was massively rigged in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Although Mr Atiku was absent at the tribunal on Wednesday, his running mate, Peter Obi, was at the court.

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