The Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa-led Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday assured Nigerians and the world of its determination to ensure justice in all the petitions challenging the outcome of the February 23 Presidential Election.
Justice Bulkachuwa stated this on Wednesday during the inaugural sitting of the tribunal at the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
The five-man panel includes; Justices Abdul Aboki (Abuja Division), Joseph Ikyegh (Benin Division), Samuel Oseji (Lagos Division), Justice Peter Ige (Abuja Division) and Zainab Bulkachuwa who is the President of the Court of Appeal.
“The independence of the judiciary is key to any vibrant democracy, especially in the resolution of election petitions,” Justice Bulkachuwa said while delivering her speech.
“Therefore, an independent judiciary is a robust and an indispensable requisite of a free society under the rule of law,” she noted.
“As we gather in this honourable courtroom today, I wish to use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, that the Court of Appeal will work in accordance and within the dictates of the constitution, the law and international best practices, to dispense justice to all, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
“I would like to conclude with this quote by my lord, the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Mr. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, CFR, that ‘Politics is not anarchy, it is not disorderliness, it must be punctuated by justice, fairness and orderliness.’”
“We assure all stakeholders that each litigant will be given equal opportunity to present his case in a mature manner before us.
“We are witnesses to what has been happening in high profile cases where such cases are being discussed and publicly decided prematurely in both the social and electronic media before the announcement of the verdict by the court.
“We pray that this time would be an exception for the benefit of the nation. We don’t expect counsel to any of the parties to hype the polity after any sitting by making a public analysis in the media as to what transpired in court.
“These proceedings should be treated as would any other low-profile case, where proceedings in court are not discussed publicly until a decision is pronounced by the court.
“This admonition is also extended to the parties, their respective counsel and the members of the press.
“We on our own part, will make relevant information available as at when due.
“Any breach will not be condoned and we will not hesitate in taking necessary action against such offenders.”
After the inauguration, the tribunal fixed May 15 for the pre-hearing of Atiku Abubakar’s petition.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared President Muhammadu Buhari, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the winner of the February 23 election.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however vehemently rejected the results, saying that he won the election according to results obtained from the computer server of INEC.
A claim INEC had denied, saying that results were not transmitted electronically but collated manually.
Consequently, Atiku decided that he would invite IBM, Microsoft and Oracle to prove his case.
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political correspondents. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.