Bulkachuwa’s Son Campaigned for Buhari, Atiku, PDP tell Tribunal

President, Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa

The Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,  on Friday told the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal  in Abuja  that Aliyu Haidar Abubakar, son of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, campaigned for  President Muhammadu Buhari  ahead of the February 23 presidential poll.

They alleged that Abubakar was  not only a card-carrying member of  the All Progressives Congress, but  also  contested  the party’s governorship primary election  in  Gombe State.

They  informed the tribunal that they had attached the Facebook printout of the wall of the said biological son of Bulkachuwa showing his campaign posts, photographs and posters canvassing votes for himself as a governorship aspirant and Buhari’s re-election bid  to their motion  as an exhibit.

The petitioners  alleged, as previously stated in the letter which the PDP  on May 9 sent to  the judge’s  office, that her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, won a senatorial seat  in the National Assembly poll, held alongside the February 23 election,  on the platform of the APC.

They therefore  stated in a motion filed before the five-man tribunal  that Justice  Bulkachuwa’s  close family ties to top  APC members would hinder her from handling the proceedings of the tribunal without bias.

The petitioners  insisted on  Justice Bulkachuwa disqualifying  herself as a member and head of the tribunal.

Demanding  her  replacement  on the panel, they urged her to recuse herself from further participation in the proceedings of the tribunal.

The affidavit deposed to by the Deputy National Secretary of the PDP, Emmanuel Agbo,  filed in support of the motion read in part, “I know that as a spouse of  Adamu Bulkachuwa,  Justice Zainab  Bulkachuwa is so closely related to Adamu Bulkachuwa that she cannot fairly hear and determine the instant petition without eliciting the suspicion and anxiety of all right thinking persons, including myself.

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“The Court of Appeal has more than 80 justices who are able and competent to participate in the hearing and determination of the extant petition in the absence of  Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.

“I also know that her biological son, Aliyu Haidar Abubakar is a card-carrying member of the 3rd respondent (APC) and he contested the governorship  primary election of the 3rd respondent  in Gombe State.

“Attached hereto and marked Exhibit 2 is a printout made today from the Facebook page named Aliyu Haidar Abubakar Volunteer Group containing his campaign posters, photographs and various posts showing his campaign messages for himself and the 2nd respondent, both of whom contested on the platform of the 3rd respondent.

“I also attach hereto and marked Exhibit 3 a printout of a Daily Post online news publication in which Aliyu  Abubakar was prominently featured as the son of  Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa and who contested the governorship primary  of Gombe State on the platform of the 3rd respondent.”

They added that Bauchi State, which was one of the three senatorial districts Bulkachuwa’s husband would be representing at the Senate when sworn in, “is one of the focal states in which the petitioners/applicants have all alleged that electoral infractions occurred”.

They therefore sought “an order that  Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, President of the Court of Appeal, and the presiding justice of the panel hearing petition numbered CA/PEPC/2019 be recused from further sitting or participating in the proceedings in this petition and be replaced by another justice of this honourable court to sit in her  place to hear and determine the petition”.

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Bulkachuwa, who led a five-man panel of the tribunal  during  Wednesday’s proceedings had directed the petitioners to file a formal application that would be heard and ruled upon in the open court.

In a  letter signed by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and its National Secretary, Umaru Tsauri, the PDP  complained that Bulkachuwa could have by a comment she made during the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on May 8 prejudged its petition challenging the outcome of the  presidential election.

It stated that Bulkachuwa’s claim in her speech to the effect that there would always be complaints no matter how an election was well-conducted had “rocked” its confidence in the panel led by her.

Secondus and the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, attended  Wednesday’s proceedings.

Bulkachuwa appeared to have initially overlooked the earlier letter sent by the PDP asking her to withdraw from the panel until the petitioners’ lead councel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), requested a meeting between the panel members and the representatives of the legal teams of the  parties to the case on Wednesday.

Uzoukwu made the request for the meeting shortly after lawyers announced  their appearances at the beginning of  Wednesday’s proceedings.

The lawyers representing the respondents –  Independent National Electoral Commission, President Muhammadu Buhari and APC – did not oppose the request for the meeting.

Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) led Buhari’s legal team, while Mr Yunus Usman (SAN) led the INEC’s team, and  Lateef Fagbemi (SAN)  APC’s team.

Ten lawyers, with  two representing each of the PDP, Atiku, INEC, Buhari and the APC met with the panel members in chambers.

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At the end of the meeting, Bulkachuwa while announcing the decision of the panel following the meeting with the lawyers, said Uzoukwu requested that she should recuse herself from the panel at the meeting.

She said the request by Uzoukwu was based on the reasons cited by the PDP in its letter earlier sent to her on May 9.

She said since the matter was already in the public domain, the panel had decided to have the issue treated openly.

Uzoukwu said  on Wednesday his team would file a formal application to that effect on Thursday.

The respondents’ lawyers said they would need time to respond to the application.

The tribunal then directed the petitioners to file their application and adjourned till May 22 for its hearing.

In compliance with the directive, the motion signed by a member of the petitioners’ legal team, Prof Maxwell Gidado (SAN), was filed on Thursday.

The motion was served on the three respondents on Friday, another member of the petitioners’ legal team, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), confirmed to one of  our correspondents on Friday.

The respondents are expected to file their replies to the motion on  Monday.

The petition jointly filed by Atiku and the PDP is one of the four filed before the tribunal to challenge Buhari’s victory at the poll.



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