The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal is going to resume sitting on the petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Presidential candidate of the party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the February 23, presidential election on Monday, June 10, 2019.
According to Punch, there are indications that the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa had appointed another judge to replace her on the five-man panel to hear the case.
On Wednesday, May 22, Justice Bulkachuwa withdrew as the head of the panel following a petition by Atiku and the opposition party accusing her of a likelihood of bias.
The Tribunal according to reports served the notice for the Monday’s hearing on all parties to the petition on Friday, June 7, 2019.
Confirming the development, leader of the legal team of the PDP and Atiku, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) said ‘the court served the notice today that the court will resume hearing on Monday’.
Speaking on Bulkachuwa’s replacement, Uzoukwu said ‘It is the presumption that we arrived at when we received the hearing notice on Friday. But we do not have any information about it.”
Recently, Atiku and the PDP wrote to Bulkachuwa to remind her of her promise to appoint her replacement on the panel to enable the hearing of their petition to resume, Punch reports.
In the letter sent to Bulkachuwa on May 30 and signed by a lawyer in their legal team, Silas Onu on behalf of Uzoukwu , Atiku and PDP said they were already running against time due to the “strict requirement of keeping to the constitutional calendar for a petition”.
The letter reads in part, “Considering the strict requirement of keeping to the constitutional calendar for a petition and the obvious fact that time is also running fast against the petitioners, we pray my Lord to act by appointing a replacement so that we will get a hearing notice and continue with the petition in the interest of justice.”
In an earlier application filed on May 16, 2019, the petitioners had alleged that Bulkachuwa remaining as a member and head of the five-man tribunal would not be impartial in handling case.
According to Punch, the application was based on the fact that Bulkachuwa’s husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, is a senator-elect on the platform of the ruling APC, which is the party whose victory at the February 23 presidential election they are challenging at the tribunal.
The PDP and Atiku in their joint petition filed on March 18, 2019, are challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential election.