The Peoples Democratic Party on Thursday asked the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to withdraw as a member of the five-man panel of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
In a petition received in the Court of Appeal’s President’s office in Abuja, on Thursday, the party alleged that as the chairman of the five-man panel, 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 the 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 February 23, 2019 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.
It stated, “Furthermore, My Lord, in your address at the opening of the pre-hearing, you made some remarks that were both frightening and heartwarming. For instance, in your opening paragraph you said: ‘Elections are held in Nigeria every four years into elective positions. No matter how well the election is conducted, there are bound to be complaints…’
“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, at the presidential poll which held on February 23, 2019.
The party’s petition is one of the four filed at the tribunal to challenge Buhari and APC’s victory at the poll. 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.