The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has formally asked the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa, to recuse herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
The party presented the request at a closed-door meeting of the parties at the Court on Wednesday.
The petitioner’s lawyers led by Levi Ozoukwu told the court that they would like Mrs Bulkachuwa to stay away from the panel.
Allegations of Bias
The PDP had raised some concerns regarding the decision of Mrs Bulkachuwa to preside over the election tribunal, citing the comments she made at the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on May 8.
The party in a statement also alleged strong ties between Mrs Bulkachuwa and the respondent in the petition, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the statement, the PDP accused Mrs Bulkachuwa of making declarations suggesting her view about the elections.
The PDP referred to a comment by Mrs Bulkachuwa that: “No matter how elections were conducted, there was bound to be conflicts.”
Mrs Bulkachuwa had added after making the said comment, that the election tribunals were created to ensure the peaceful resolution of such conflicts.
But in a reaction, the PDP said the statement was evident that Mrs Bulkachuwa had taken a stand to accept that the elections were faultless.
“The question then is, how can a petitioner convince your Lordship otherwise over an election which in your Lordship’s opinion was very well conducted?” the party said.
The PDP also requested the suspension of Mrs Bulkachuwa’s appearance at the tribunal, citing her relationship with the APC.
Alleged ties with APC
Mrs Bulkachuwa is married to Mohammed Bulkachuwa who controversially replaced Usman Tuggar who had won the APC primaries for the Bauchi North Senatorial District.
Mr Tuggar had polled 71,508 votes to defeat his closest rival, Mr Bulkachuwa, who scored 16, 680 votes in the primaries conducted in October 2018.
After announcing Mr Tuggar winner of the said primaries, the APC replaced him with Mr Bulkachuwa without any explanation.
Following that replacement, Mr Bulkachuwa won the seat at the elections conducted in February.
The PDP in its application, therefore, said it would be impossible for Mrs Bulkachuwa to be objective given the position of her husband as an elected senator of the APC.
Arguments on applications
After re-emerging from the closed-door session on Wednesday, Mrs Bulkachuwa announced that the PDP had made the application requesting that she recuse herself.
She said although a verbal application was made, the party hoped to formalise its request on Thursday.
She, however, asked the respondents if they had a reaction to the application already noted.
In response, a lead counsel for the respondents, Wole Olanikpekun, and the other respondents said they would also like to make a formal response to the application.
The court then adjourned till May 22 for the hearing of the request from the PDP.
The PDP and its candidate, Atiku Abubakar, are seeking the nullification of Mr Buhari’s election. The party said it won the February 23 presidential election.