Zainab Bulkachuwa

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has warned against public comments which would publicly decide presidential petitions in the court.

Justice Bulkachuwa stated this at the inaugural sitting of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja on Wednesday.

She said such media discussions overheat the polity.

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

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

“These proceedings should be treated as would any other low-profile case, where proceedings in court are not discussed publicly until a decision is pronounced by the court.

“This admonition is also extended to the parties, their respective counsel, and the members of the press.

“We on our own part, will make relevant information available as at when due. Any breach will not be condoned and we will not hesitate in taking necessary action against such offenders,” she added.

Four petitions were called up by the tribunal and were later adjourned for pre-hearing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

There is the petition by PDP and its candidate Atiku Abubakar alleging wide-scale irregularities, non-compliance with the Electoral Act, corrupt practices, and non-qualification against the APC and its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 23 presidential poll.

There are also three others by the presidential candidates: Ambrose Owuru of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP); Geff Chizee Ojinka of the Coalition for Change (CC); and Aminchi Habu of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM).

The PDP vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi announces representation for Atiku Abubakar during the inaugural sitting.

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