Justice Bulkachuwa Steps Down From Presidential Election Tribunal

Tunde Bakare 

The President of Court Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has honorably recused herself as the Chairman of 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hearing the petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Bulkachuwa took the voluntary withdrawal decision from participating in the hearing of the case shortly after the unanimous decision of the panel dismissing the application filed by the petitioner.

The ruling was delivered by a member of the panel, Justice Peter Ige.

She said that she took the decision for personal reasons and to avoid a situation where another female Justice will face same issues presented to the court.

She said that the four man panel will continue with the case pending the announcement of the new chairman of the panel.

But the tribunal held that the petitioners have not placed enough materials of evidence before the court that the president of court of appeal will be biased in the matter.

The remaining four members of the panel have continued with case.

It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and it’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar on 16th of May 2019 filed a motion asking an order to ensure that Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa be recused from further sitting of the tribunal or participating in the proceedings in the petition and be replaced by another Justice of the Appeal Court.

They also averred that Justice Bulakchuwa is the biological mother to Aliyu Haidar-Abubakar a prominent card-carrying member of the All Progressive Congress.

It further averred that being the wife and mother of prominent card-carrying members of the APC which is the third respondent in the petition before the tribunal, there is every likelihood of bias if Justice Bulkachuwa remains as a member of the panel.

They also asserted that at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal the president of the appeal court while delivering her speech 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.”

Her decision to step down is seen as a test of transparency of the process.

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