“Read me! Phones and other gadgets are not allowed in the courtroom. Thank you as you comply,” a notice on the presidential election petition court door at the Court of Appeal in Abuja reads.
Already, the secretary of the appellate court has announced that beginning Monday, May 22, phones and gadgets would be prohibited during court hearings.
Furthermore, the court stated that it would rule on the possibility of live transmission of the election petition on Monday, but many are doubtful. Reactions on social media suggest that many citizens believe the restriction on phones and gadgets foreshadows the court’s position on a live telecast.
“We are seeking to have live broadcast of the Election Tribunal on TV stations, but the court which we are depending on for that ruling has now banned phones in the court. Which way Nigeria? Why is our judiciary like this?”, Ndi Kato said on Twitter.
Isa Bashir wrote, “This presupposes that they are not likely to be transparent in their dealings. They are not going to allow live transmission of hearing. This is sad that the court is not on the side of the people.
“No need to wait till Monday to deliver judgment on live telecast. The judgment came earlier than thought,” Ezenwka tweeted.
Since the electoral tribunal hearing began, Nigerians have demonstrated a great desire to participate in its proceedings. This can be observed in the manner in which they record and share updates on the hearings, and their interest in the tribunal’s verdict on the Labour Party’s live broadcast petition.
Twitter user Samuel Ajayi stated: “If they won’t allow phones, then they should rule in favour of live broadcast on TV. This is about openness and accountability to the public. This is our case too, and we need to know what is going on.”
Likewise, Chinwe Duruaku-Agu said: “The court should rule in favour of livestreaming then to cushion this.”
Learning of the court’s decision, Alex Anthony, another Twitter user, wrote, “So that means they would rule against live broadcasting of the tribunal. Gradually, we are watching.”
“This is not a good sign. If mobile phones are banned in the PEPT court, it implies the application for live coverage of court proceedings will not be granted, and ultimately, an order from above may determine the judgment that will be delievered…,” added Nwophoke Solomon.
On the other hand, there are some who continue to be hopeful for a positive outcome.
Kolade Rafael, for instance, wrote, “Live broadcasts on TV stations are not phone recordings. They’re two different things; there’s no need to make assertions or assumptions yet.”
“Although the Secretary of the Appeal Court has said there will be no smart phones allowed in court from Monday, it is different from allowing the ‘Media Team’ into the court and streaming live proceedings,” said Rufus Onya.
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