Apparently encumbered by an unbearable allegation of bias, the President of Court Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, has stepped aside as the Chairman of 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal hearing the petition against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The tribunal held that the petitioners have not placed enough materials of evidence before the court. Apparently jolted, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) submitted that the president of court of appeal will be biased in the matter.
Bulkachuwa voluntarily withdrew 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, pointing out that the four man panel will continue with the case pending the announcement of the new chairman of the panel.
The remaining four members of the panel have continued with case.
The PDP and her Pesidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar on May 16, filed a motion asking an order to ensure that Justice 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 (APC), and further 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 aside is however, seen as a test of transparency of the process.
Counsel to Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, Livy Ozuokwu asked the chairman of the tribunal to recuse herself on the grounds that she will be biased in the case, and accordingly complied on Wednesday, after a prolonged sitting.