Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, President of the Court of Appeal, has recused herself as a member of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
This was despite the ruling of a five-man panel of the tribunal on Wednesday that the appellate court president was not in any way intertwined in a conflict of interest concerning the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The PDP and its candidate in the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, who are challenging the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC in the election, had filed a petition before the tribunal questioning the eligibility of Justice Bulkachuwa to sit on the panel as the presiding judge.
The petitioners claimed that the judge would not be impartial in her decision at the tribunal as her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, and her son Aliyu Abubakar, won a senatorial election and was a governorship aspirant respectively under the APC.
But in the lead judgment delivered by Justice Olabisi Ige and unanimously agreed to by the five-man panel, the tribunal held that the appellate court president’s relationship with the aforementioned persons did not in any way prove that a bias judgement would be delivered against the petitioners.
The tribunal also held that Justice Bulkachuwa did not make any remark at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal that implied she had a pre-concluded judgment decision against the petitioner.
However, Justice Bulkachuwa said he was stepping down from the tribunal due to “personal reasons.”
“I am recusing myself from the panel for personal reasons,” she said.
She, however, did not disclose the content of the personal reasons.
The judge stated that she was delighted that the eligibility matter had been settled “based on facts and the law” so that “another female judge will no longer have to face what I have faced.”
Justice Bulkachuwa announced that a new presiding Justice would be appointed for the panel, but noted that the four remaining members of the panel would continue with the hearing of the preliminary applications pending the appointment of the new member.