By Dirisu Yakubu
The National Working Committee, NWC, of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday asked the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to excuse herself from the Presidential Tribunal sitting over the petition filed by its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku is contesting the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the February 23 polls.
The party premised its rejection of Justice Bulkachuwa’s membership of the panel on the grounds that her husband is a Senator-elect from Bauchi State on the platform of All Progressives Congress, APC.
PDP added that it would be difficult to convince any reasonable person that she will not discuss the case with her husband, who is an interested party in the case.
The party stated this in a letter to the justice dated May 8 by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and National Secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsuari
The letter was titled ‘A Request To Recuse Yourself From The Panel Hearing Petition No. CA/PEPC/002/2019.
Justice Bulkachuwa is the chairman of the panel to hear the petition filed by Atiku and PDP as the second defendant over the outcome of the election. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC are defendants in the suit.
A copy of the letter which was obtained by Vanguard read in part: “My Lord, it is no more a secret, that your dear husband, Hon. Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa, contested the February 23, 2019 election for the position of Senator in Bauchi North Senatorial district and won same on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“This information is not just in the public domain but has dominated both public and private discussions to the extent that it has become a sore source of worry not just for members of our party but to the generality of Nigerians because of your very unique and critical position as the President of the Court of Appeal which is saddled with the sacred responsibility of hearing petitions arising from the presidential election.
“This fear was palpable enough just with you as the President of the Court of Appeal but has now been worsened and compounded by the discovery that you have decided to appoint yourself as chairman of the Panel to hear the petition.
The party added that “we are reasoning that, armed with this golden rule of justice as fair hearing and given your direct intimacy through your dear husband, with the APC, one of the parties in this Election petition, your lordship would have exercise your constitutional right and powers guardedly, judiciously and judicially, by excluding yourself from the panel of this honourable court sitting over the particular petition.
“It is based on the above premises, therefore that we are constrained to respectfully request for your Lordship to recuse yourself from presiding over and/or sitting as a member of the panel hearing the instant petition as it would be impossible for your lordship to convince any reasonable man that your dear husband never discussed this petition, which he is patently interested in its outcome with you, throughout the trial.”