The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has fixed May 22 to entertain an application asking Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the five-man panel on the election, following alleged fear of preconceived bias made by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The opposition party had asked her to step aside from the panel because her husband and son are prominent members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and likely to make her become biased in adjudicating the matter.
The court had fixed Wednesday to begin pre-hearing session on the petition filed by the PDP and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
Justice Bulkachuwa is the President of the Court of Appeal and heads the panel and had adjourned proceedings on the matter to allow the two petitioners file a formal application against her membership of the panel.
Earlier, Dr Levy Uzoukwu (SAN), Counsel for both PDP and Atiku, filed an oral application to be granted permission for all counsel to meet with the members of the panel in Chambers.
Justice Bulkachuwa granted the request by ordering a stand down on the matter.
Upon their arrival from chambers, Bulkachuwa disclosed in the open court the informal call by the petitioners for her to withdraw from participating in the hearing of their petition.
She however said such an action must be formally placed before the court through an application that should be argued by all parties, according to NAN reports.
“The counsel for the two petitioners have raised an issue in chambers directing me to recuse myself from hearing their petition.
“This matter has initially been brought to my attention in a letter from the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, dated May 8.
“Their request is now in public domain, but the counsel for the petitioners must approach the court with a formal application,” she said.
In another development, the tribunal granted Coalition for Change (C4C) and its presidential candidate, Geff Ojinika, permission to serve President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with their petition through substituted means.
Bulkachuwa granted the leave following an exparte application brought by the applicants.
“The applicants are hereby granted leave to serve president Buhari and vice president Osinbajo with the petition challenging their victory through substituted means.
“The first and second respondents should be served via the National Secretariat of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in No.40 Blantyre Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja.”