Amidst fears and worries on the judgment of Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to withdraw as a member of the five-man panel.
PDP alleged Bulkachuwa would likely be biased in the handling of the tribunal’s proceedings because of her ties to family members belonging to the All Progressives Congress
The party, in a petition which was signed by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and its National Secretary, Umaru Tsauri, specifically said Bulkachuwa’s husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, contested and won the Bauchi North Senatorial District election on the platform of the APC during the February 23, 2019 poll.
“We are reasoning that, armed with this golden rule of justice and fair hearing and given your direct intimacy, through your dear husband, with the APC, one of the parties in this election petition, Your Lordship, would have exercised your constitutional right and powers guardedly, judiciously and judicially, by excluding yourself from the panel of this honourable court’s sitting over this particular petition,” the party stated.
The party also complained that Bulkachuwa could have, by a comment she made during the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on Wednesday, prejudged its petition challenging the outcome of the presidential election.
It stated that Bulkachuwa’s claim in her speech to the effect that there would always be complaints no matter how an election was well-conducted had “rocked” its confidence in the panel led by her.
“This remark rocked our confidence in a panel led by Your Lordship to determine our fate in an election which could be one of the ones that were very well ‘conducted’ in Your Lordship’s opinion.”
“The question then is how can a petitioner convince Your Lordship otherwise over an election, which in Your Lordship’s opinion, was very well ‘conducted’?”
The PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had jointly filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the APC.
The PDP said due to the intimacy Bulkachuwa had with APC through her husband and other family members; it was not expecting her to be part of the tribunal panel not to talk of her chairing it.”
“We were surprised that Your Lordship, could choose to be part of the panel talk less of presiding over the petition ‘
“It is based on the above premises, therefore, that we are constrained to respectfully request your lordship to recluse yourself from presiding over and/or sitting as a member of the panel hearing”
“This is so because Justice must not only be done but it must be manifestly seen to be done.”
The tribunal had on Wednesday fixed May 15 for the commencement of the pre-hearing session on the PDP’s petition.
In its reaction, the APC alleged that the PDP interest was mainly to remain in the news and that it would not help it (the PDP) to achieve that.