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The reason I withdrew from Presidential Election Petition Tribunal – Bulkachuwa

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The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has recused hersef from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, following allegations of likelihood of bias leveled against her.

Senior Lawyers and other Nigerians have been reacting to the decision of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to recuse herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.

The PDP had in a petition, alleged a likelihood of bias by her because of her position as the wife of Senator Adamu, a Senator-elect under the APC and mother to a former governorship aspirant in Gombe state.

Although, the five-man panel of the tribunal had earlier, in a unanimous decision, dismissed the application of “alleged bias” brought against her, Justice Bulkachuwa said she was stepping down for “personal reasons”.

Reacting to the decision to recuse herself from the panel, lawyers of the PDP, INEC, APC and Buhari’s lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN) have all commended her and said her decision had saved the judiciary from embarrassment.

But, in what seemed a veiled admonition, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) Lawyer to APC said; “As it is fast becoming the norm and regrettably so, this is another havoc wreaked on one of Nigeria’s finest jury. This is not the first time this is happening.

“Just recently, Justice Oyewole whose immortal contribution was acknowledged by the counsel for the applicants a while ago, while written against not to be allowed to sit on the Osun state election petition tribunal”

“Nebulous as likelihood of bias’ is, it has its own boundaries. The exhortation in all the authorities that have been cited, recognizes that each case has to be dealt with on its own merit”.

He went further to align himself with the decision of Justice to withdraw from the panel on the ground that it would save her name as she goes into retirement next year.

“But, with respect, next year, your Lordship, the President of the Court of Appeal will be bowing out gloriously by the grace of God.

“Your name, either the one you acquired before you got married, or the one you acquired after you got married, none is for you alone. You hold them in trust and you have been blessed, being the first Female President of the Court of Appeal in Nigeria.

” My Lord, your youthful look may confuse one. You are old enough to be my mother. My Lord, you standing as my parent, I will say, Mum, leave the matter”.

However, counsel to INEC, Mr Usman said the application was discriminatory against female judges married to politicians by virtue of section 45 of the Nigerian Constitution.

He said; “We have to be very careful not to allow politicians wreak the only institution keeping democracy alive in Nigeria today”

Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and the women in Nigeria also described the application by Atiku and PDP against Justice Bulkachuwa as discriminatory against women.