Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba , the presiding Justice of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, has replaced Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the President of the Court of Appeal, in the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
Justice Bulkachuwa recued herself from the panel following demands by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku and his party (PDP), had demanded that she withdraws from the PEPT because of her family’s interest in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC is one of the respondents in Atiku’s petition against President Muhammadu Buhari.
Bulkachuwa’s husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, is a senator-elect under the APC, while her son also contested the APC governorship primary in Gombe State and also campaigned for President Buhari who is also a respondent in Atiku’s petition.
Consequently, Atiku and his party demanded that she withdraws, saying that she could be biased in her judgment because of her family’s interest in the ruling party.
The PDP also noted that there is no way Justice Bulkachuwa, who headed the PEPT, would not discuss the case with her husband who is an APC chieftain.
Their demands were however unanimously dismissed by the PEPT panel, but Justice Bulkachuwa still rescued herself from the panel on personal ground.
Justice Garba on Monday presided over the five-man PEPT.
Atiku believes he is the genuine winner of the presidential poll held on February 23 (according to him data he obtained from the server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) shows that he won the poll by over 1.6million votes. INEC however declared Buhari of the ruling APC winner. Consequently, the PDP candidate approached court to challenge Buhari’s victory.
Buhari had already been inaugurated for second term on May 29. If he however loses in court, he would step down for Atiku.
Meanwhile another political party (The Coalition for Change) challenging the victory of President Buhari had at the hearing today withdrew its petition at the PEPT.
The request to withdraw its petition was made earlier today by its lawyer, Obed Agwu, as the tribunal resumed hearing.
Consequently, the Justice Garba-led panel dismissed the Coalition for Change petition against Buhari, APC, and INEC.
Hearing was adjourned till tomorrow, June 11.