Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the President of the Court of Appeal, has resigned from the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT).
Her resignation came following the formal demand by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for her withdrawal as a member and presiding judge of the tribunal.
The opposition party had stated that the judge might be biased in her ruling at the tribunal because of the relationship her family has with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, is a chieftain of the ruling APC. He also emerged as a senator-elect under the ruling party in the last general elections.
Also, the PDP further revealed that her son, Aliyu Abubakar, contested the APC governorship primaries in Gombe State. The opposition party also attached as exhibit, a printed page of his Facebook wall, where he had campaigned for the election of President Muhammadu Buhari prior to the 2019 general election.
Justice Bulkachuwa who heads the five-man PEPT panel withdrew her membership on Wednesday.
Before her decision to step down, the panel of the tribunal had unanimously dismissed the application of the PDP against her. She however said that she was withdrawing nevertheless for personal reasons.
“I am recusing myself from the panel for personal reasons,” she said.
She further expressed joy that the matter was settled based on facts and law, so that another female judge will not have to face what she had faced.
She further stated that a new judge to head the tribunal panel would be appointed.
However, the remaining four judges would continue with the hearing pending when the new judge to replace her is appointed.
The tribunal panel had earlier in its ruling read by Justice Olabisi Ige said that the petition by the PDP against her was not weighty enough to allege that she would be biased in her judgment.
“I am of the view that the fact that the Honourable President of this court is the wife of Honourable Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa and the mother of Aliyu Haidir Abubakar are not weighty enough to impute likelihood of bias against the President of the Court of Appeal,” Justice Ige said.
“The two of them are not parties to the petition before us, and have not shown to be listed as witnesses of the 3rd respondent (the APC) in the petition before us.
“There is no allegation made against the spouse or the son of the Honourable President of this court in the petition of the petitioners/applicants.
“Their relationship with the Presiding Justice of this panel is not all capable of causing likelihood of bias against any of the parties in the petition.
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.