By Uche Mbah
After a long delay, the Presidential Election Tribunal resumes sitting Monday after the last session that saw the Appeal Court head, Zainab Bulkachuwa, recusing herself from the case while promising to appoint a judge to replace her as a member of the tribunal.
Two weeks later, she appeared to have made no efforts to replace herself, prompting the lead Counsel for Atiku Abubakar, the Paople’s Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Livy Uzoukwu, to protest about the issue to the Head of the Court of Appeal, Bulkachuwa herself querying her delay. Her lack of response would have resulted in a petition to the National Judicial council accusing her of dereliction of duty.
But that was not to happen.
The tribunal late this week wrote to all parties concerned informing all that the tribunal will resume Monday, 8th June 2019. But according to information available to This Magazine, no mention was made of the replacement in the notice to stakeholders.
The tribunal has 180 days to finish the case. Opposition PDP has been smelling foul play, insisting that the delay is part of grand design to deny justice to Atiku Abubakar, the PDP candidate.
It was also alleged that part of the reason for the clampdown on DAAR communications was that they took a strong editorial stand against Justice Bulkachuwa continuing to remain as a panel member of the Tribunal, even as the Chairman. “The idea was to muscle the media house before bringing the replacement. She was probably shopping for a Judge that maybe would share her political philosophy on the case”, an opposition PDP source told this Magazine. Bulkachuwa was said to have filial affiliation with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
This is probably not the case. This Magazine found out that the Courts are overwhelmed by the unprecedented number of election cases under the current Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.Hence the Judges are overstretched. Most Civil cases and criminal cases, the Magazine was told, had to suffer because the election cases takes precedence.