By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has stepped aside from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.
It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar had raised an issue of bias against Justice Bulkachuwa, urging her to withdraw from the panel.
However, the five-member panel of the tribunal, in a unanimous ruling dismissed the application, but Bulkachuwa, disclosed that she was withdrawing for “personal reasons”.
Delivering the lead ruling, Justice Olabisi Ige, held that the relationship between Justice Bulkachuwa and her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, who is a senator-elect, and her son Aliyu Abubakar, a governorship aspirant, both on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, had nothing to do the handling of proceedings of the tribunal.
Justice Ige also held that no inference of likelihood of bias could be inferred from the speech delivered by Justice Bulkachuwa at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on May 8 that she had pre-judged the petitioners’ petition.
All the members of the panel, including Justice Bulkachuwa, agreed with the lead ruling.
But, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “I am recusing myself from the panel for personal reasons”.
She however expressed joy that the matter had been settled “based on facts and the law” so that “another female judge will no longer have to face what I have faced”.
She said a new presiding Justice would be appointed for the panel, but that the four remainning members of the panel would continue with the hearing of the preliminary applications pending the appointment of the new head of the panel.