The Catholic Bishop Emeritus of Abuja Archdiocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has backed the call for live broadcast of Presidential Election Petition Tribunal proceedings.
The cleric noted that the proceedings of the Election Tribunal should not be ‘like a secret meeting,’ because the voters needed to follow up on how their votes were being defended.
Onaiyekan made this assertion while speaking in an interview with journalists after Mass to mark the end of this year’s 57th World Communication Week on Sunday.
He warned against the dangers of electoral malpractices saying that rather than the politicians, the masses feel the direct impact of a rigged election.
According to him, Jesus Christ could only report to the Father on the success of his mission of showing the Father to the world because he was effective in his communication style.
He said, “It is not enough to communicate, it is also as important that we communicate effectively. Pope Paul 6 was aware of this great need. Thus in 1967, he established the World Communication Day Celebration as an annual event during;
“… which Catholics all over the world reflect on a theme which focuses on media and communication. Since then, 57 years now, successive Popes have maintained the tradition.”
Onaiyekan urged the media to give voice to all groups as they cover the activities for the May 29th handover.
He however, called the judges in the PEPT to dispense judgment fairly and allow its proceedings to be transparent so that Nigerians can rekindle their hope in the Judiciary.
He said, “As journalists, you do your job, cover everything, but try and listen to everybody and relay to the public what is happening because they want to see.
“Isn’t it why it is important the petition before the tribunal, the possibility that the tribunal should be available to all of us to be able to follow what is happening?
“For me, this is very important; one thing that Nigerians don’t seem to realize is that when elections are rigged, it is not the contestants or the politicians who are worst hit.
“Those who are the most impacted is me and you, but as it stands, we don’t even have locus standi in court. We are the ones who should be complaining in court that my votes have been bastardized, but they tell me I cannot go in the court because I did not contest the election.
“If we cannot go and make our case, at least let us see what is happening inside there. We believe that our honourable judges will do their best to make judgements that are correct, they do what is right.
“Everybody will see it and it will help to calm nerves, we will know that the right thing has been done, but if they do all these somehow like a secret meeting, even if they did the right thing, we will say who knows what they said.
“So, it is in the interest of the judiciary to allow this thing to be done. All these issues that there are witnesses, whose witnesses are not meant to be made public, for goodness sake, what are they hiding? If you have anything that people shouldn’t know, you shouldn’t be saying it.
“I am praying that the Honourable Justices will find a way even though they have not been doing it before. But they should be ready to do it now. It has reached a stage in Nigeria that we have to be doing things we have not been doing before;
“… because if we have been doing things the way we have been doing it before, then it means we want things to continue the way it has been happening, and we see it has not been helping us, we must boldly take new steps and accept new things.”