The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has alleged that some of the judges on the panel set up to hear the petition of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are working for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Backstory: In a statement by Ikenga Ugochinyere, its spokesman, the coalition said it had seen the names of those on the five-man panel. It listed Zainab Adamu-Bulkachuwa, president of the court of appeal; Abdul Aboki; Peter Ige; J. S. Ikyegh and S. C. Oseji, as the members of the panel.
Quote: “The approved list which was intercepted by our credible insider informant during conveyance from the Villa back to the Court of Appeal was drawn from a list of eight justices submitted to the Villa for approval. The list is drafted in such a way that without any matter properly being before the Justices, the Panel has been rigged and skewed with three of the Justices on the list having been approached and commitments secured from them that no matter the evidence put before them, they were going to rule in favour of the President. They are now agents and officers of the President and not officers in the temple of justice.”
- That Justices Zainab Bulkachuwa, Justice Aboki and Justice Peter Ige recuse themselves from the Panel. “The intelligence at our disposal which formed the basis for all the views canvassed in this statement is that these three Justices have already given their commitment to the Presidency that they will rule in favour of the President at the Tribunal hence they cannot dispense justice.”
- That Justice Bulkachawa should not be the one to reconstitute the panel, but she should recuse herself and allow an “impartial senior justice of the court” to do it.
One more thing: CUPP made a point that Justice Bulkachawa’s husband has just been elected senator in Bauchi North under the APC, the party of the president. According to CUPP, the APC ticket was “donated” to him even though he “did not participate in the primaries.” They claim that it was done to secure the assurance of his wife.
Now we cannot say if any such assurance was sought by the APC or secured, but there seems to be a conflict. Not because Justice Bulkachawa is not a fair judge or because she is not her own person, but because her husband’s election was conducted on the same day as the president. If she rules that the election that brought in the president was flawed, then she is basically ruling against her husband as well. Considering that Bauchi is one of the states in the North East that the PDP is contesting, this scenario is not far-fetched.