…it’s a case of natural justice, says PDP
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Wednesday, withdrew as a member of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
This followed allegations of likelihood of bias levelled against her by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Although the five-man panel of the tribunal, in a unanimous ruling dismissed the application, Bulkachuwa said she was withdrawing for “personal reasons.”
Justice Olabisi Ige, who read the lead ruling of the panel, held that the relationship between Justice Bulkachuwa and her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, who is a senator-elect, and her son Aliyu Abubakar, a governorship aspirant, both on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was not weighty enough to infer that she would be biased in her handling of the proceedings of the panel.
Justice Ige also ruled that no inference of likelihood of bias could be inferred from the speech delivered by Justice Bulkachuwa at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on May 8 that she had pre-judged the petitioners’ petition.
All the members of the panel, including Justice Bulkachuwa, agreed with the lead ruling.
Despite that, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “I am recusing myself from the panel for personal reasons.”
She, however, expressed joy that the matter had been settled “based on facts and the law” so that “another female judge will no longer have to face what I have faced.”
She said a new presiding Justice would be appointed for the panel, but that the four remaining members of the panel would continue with the hearing of the preliminary applications pending the appointment of the new head of the panel.
Reacting to the issue, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it had nothing against the person of Justice Bulkachuwa.
Rather, it said it decided to file the application in order to protect the integrity of the judiciary.
The National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said, “We have nothing personal against Her Lordship. Rather, what we did was to help her protect her name. Natural justice demands she doesn’t sit in such a case. That’s what she has done. That’s fine by us. We are okay with her decision.”