After weeks of pressure, the Chairman of the 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa has recused herself from participating in petitions challenging the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
She recused herself shortly after the tribunal overruled objections in an application challenging her membership of the tribunal.
Her words while excluding herself from further participation in adjudicating in the petitions: “I have allowed the ruling on the application urging me to recuse my membership of the tribunal to test the position of the law.
“Now that the application has been dismissed on account of incompetence, I hereby announce my withdrawal from the panel.
“The remaining four members of the panel would remain while step would be taken to appoint my replacement’’, she said.
Lawyers for Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) averred that Justice Bulkachuwa was wife to Alhaji Adamu Bulkachuwa, a Senator-elect on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Atiku’s lawyers added that the Justice is also a mother to Aliyu Haidar-Abubakar who was an aspirant in the last APC governorship primary in Gombe State.
But the tribunal ruled that the reasons adduced by the applicants were not sufficient enough to discharge the chairman from presiding over the tribunal.
Justice Peter Igeh held that the application is misguided and incompetent.
“In the circumstance, the application is dismissed and the position of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa as the the chairman of the tribunal is hereby re-affirmed.
Curiously, Atiku, in a statement he personally signed, praised Bulkachuwa.
His words: “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). 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.
“May God bless the judiciary and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”