Atiku Abubakar, the 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has commended Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa for withdrawing from the presidential election tribunal panel.

Mrs Bulkachuwa, until she stepped down, headed the presidential election petition tribunal where Mr Abubakar is challenging the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

After the inaugural sitting of the tribunal, the PDP alongside its candidate in the election accused the Appeal Court president of likelihood of bias.

Filling a petition to that effect, the petitioners urged the jurist to step aside due to her family ties with members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) a political party involved in the suit challenging the outcome of the February 23 exercise.

Ruling on their application on Wednesday, the tribunal dismissed the allegation of likelihood of bias as the accusers did not present enough evidence to back up their claim.

However, after the judgement, Bulkachuwa rescued herself from the panel despite agreeing with the ruling delivered.

Commending her for stepping aside, the PDP candidate said she cannot be a judge in her own case.

“One of the principal maxims of the Common Law is nemo judex in causa sua (no man shall be a judge in his own case),” Atiku said in a statement on Thursday.

“The call by my legal team for Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal was predicated on this principle, being that her husband, Alhaji Mohammed Bulkachuwa, is an All Progressives Congress Senator-elect and the case she was expected to adjudicate upon had a bearing on that party.

“My legal team’s objection was not a reflection on Justice Bulkachuwa’s character or competence. As a matter of fact, I have great respect for her, being a pioneer and advocate for gender equality and female empowerment.

“It is with this in mind that I commend Justice Bulkachuwa for recusing herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Panel hearing my petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Her action showed courage and is an act of patriotism. She has, by this action, increased the confidence the public have for the judiciary.

“Not only do I commend her, I also pray, especially in this holy month of Ramadan, that Justice will be done by the tribunal according to the fear of God and not in keeping with respect for the powers that be,” he added.