A’Court President Withdraws From Presidential Poll Tribunal, Gives Reason

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Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa

Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, president of the Court of Appeal, has withdrawn her participation in the 2019 presidential election tribunal.

Mrs Bulkachuwa who is the chairman of the tribunal stepped down on Wednesday.

Her decision to quit is sequel to the request of Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his party who jointly accused the jurist of likelihood of bias, given her family ties with members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), a political party involved in a suit challenging the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

Mr Abubakar popularly known as Atiku and his party instituted the legal fireworks after they lost the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Bulkachuwa is said to be married to a Senator-elect belonging to the ruling party. Her son is also reported to be a card-carrying member of the APC.

Mr Atiku, a former vice president, and the PDP who filed a petition clamouring for the jurist t o step aside, had it dismissed by the tribunal.

Reading the judgement of the application, another member of the panel, Justice Peter Ige, said not enough materials had been presented before the court to show that Justice Bulkachuwa will be biased in the hearing and the decisions on the petition.

Justice Ige added that the fact that she is married to a Senator-elect who along with her son are in the APC will not foist any room for bias in the case.

Stressing that her relationship is not capable of prejudicing the case, Justice Ige concluded that the petitioners have not satisfied the requirements for the president of the tribunal to recuse herself.

Why I Stepped Down – Bulkachuwa

Despite agreeing with the judgement, Bulkachuwa stepped aside, saying her decision is personal.

“I will, however, recuse myself on personal ground,” she said.

The female jurist also explained that her decision to allow the tribunal deliver judgement before she steps down was to avert the occurrence of such scenario in the future where another female judge might face same accusation.