By Nwangwu Uba
More facts have emerged why Zainab Bulkachuwa, a Justice of the Supreme Court, resigned as the Chairman of Presidential Election Appeal Tribunal. This is because of the Pressure from the Leadership of the People’s Democratic Partic, PDP, and Atiku Abubakar, the Presidential Candidate of the Party, in the February 23, 2019, election urging him over allegations he has politically linked to the All Progressive Congress, APC.
Atiku, the PDP , Candidate in the 2019 Presidential election had dragged President Muhammadu Buhari, of the APC and Mahmood Yakubu, a Professor and Chairman , Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to the Tribunal, insisting that he was robbed of victory in the election and therefore ,should be declared the winner.
He may have sensed that the first sitting of the Tribunal in Abuja, going by the remarks by Bulkachuwa, the Tribunal Chairman, that elections are held every four years in Nigeria, an indication that the PDP and Atiku , its Presidential Candidate in the election , should go back to the drawing board and start making preparations for the 2023 election instead of wasting time at the Tribunal.
The PDP leadership and atiku , may not have found the speech funny, as they believe that the Tribunal Chairman , was acting out the script of the Katsina state born Nigeria President and the APC. The Bauchi state born Justice of the Supreme Court, may not have wanted to sit as the Chairman of the Tribunal where she would give a judgment that would not be acceptable to the parties in the electoral dispute. Already the PDP and Atiku, its Presidential Candidate has made it clear that they would accept the verdict of the Tribunal which is tailored to favour the APC and INEC.
The fallout was her to withdrew as the Tribunal Chairman , after notifying Tanko ibrahim Mohammad, the acting CJN. Legal sources disclosed that the no nonsense Justice of the Supreme Court , who became President of the Appeal Court in 2014, withdrew from the Tribunal after it had dismissed an ”application by the PDP and its Candidate in the 2019 , Presidential election asking her to recuse herself from the Tribunal”.
She may not have have resigned going by the Judgment delivered by Peter Ige, a Justice of the Supreme Court and member of the three-man Tribunal that that there is nothing to show in the allegations presented by the PDP that Bulkachuwa, the Tribunal Chairman, would be biased in the hearing and decisions on the Aitu petition. The Tribunal member who gave ruling on the petition noted that being the wife of Ahmed Bulkachuwa, a Senator-elect, on the platform of the APC, was not a guarantee that she would favour the the party .
The Tribunal Chairman who had earlier agreed with the Ige Judgment over the dissmissal of the Atiku and the PDP Application did not want to give further room to the Opposition party and Atiku, its Presidential Candidate, to criticise her but to ”recuse herself from the Tribunal, giving for personal reasons for her decision.
She had explained that she allowed the case to be heard by the full Appeal Court so that in the future another female Judge will not be made to face what she had faced now. The PDP leadership of the Hope Democratic Party, HDP, one of the parties that had had gone into alliance with the PDP, in the last Presidential election, and Ambrose Aworu, its Presidential Candidate, may have expected that as Justice Bulkachuwa had recuse herself from the Tribunal they could easily get favourable Judgment to stop the inauguration of the Katsina state born Nigerian President on May 29, 2019. They got it wrong. The party , at the instance of Atiku, was said to have filed a petition seeking to stop Buhari’s inauguration. But Joseph Ikyechi, a Justice of the Supreme Court who gave Judgment on the application had dismissed it as ”lacking merit.
The Tribunal may have taken the position of the APC and INEC, which had faulted the HDP and its Presidential Candidate argument and asking the Tribunal to dismiss the application as lacking merit. Note that the party had argued that” it will be unfair and unjust to inaugurate the incumbent President for a second term on the ground that the validity of the 2019 election that produced him has been challenged at the Tribunal by his closest rival, Atiku of the PDP and the Tribunal had not given Judgment on the case.
The Party may have gone too far by asking Mohammad, the acting CJN, to stop administering the Oath of office and Oath of allegiance on the President until all cases against him are terminated. The acting CJN, may not have bowed to their legal pressure to bar the President from going ahead with his preparation from his inauguration as the Presidency was said to have sent out invitations to other world leaders , particular, African Union Presidents and Heads of State to attend the inauguration ceremony.
Given the mood of the nation at present, Lai Muhammed, minister of Information and Culture, has told those that cares to listen that Buhari’s inauguration for a second term on May 29, 2019, will be a low key affair.