PEOPLES Democratic Party (PDP) leaders have written to the president of the Court of Appeal Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa asking her to stand down from her role on the presidential elections tribunal because it represents a conflict of interest as her husband is a politician.
Under Nigeria’s constitutional arrangement, the court of appeal president presides over the Presidential Elections Tribunal. Justice Bulkachuwa will thus preside over the ongoing legal battle between President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP presidential candidate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
However, her husband Adamu Bulkachuwa, is member of the APC and recently got elected as the senator representing Bauchi North Senatorial District. Consequently, the PDP’s national working committee (NWC) has asked Justice Bulkachuwa to excuse herself from the tribunal that is determining the winner of the February 23 polls.
According to the PDP, 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. In a letter signed by the PDP national chairman Prince Uche Secondus and its secretary, Senator Umaru Ibrahim Tsuari, the party said: “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 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.
“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 exercises 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 excuse 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.”