I have a lot of respect for her… Atiku says of Justice Bulkachuwa
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FORMER Vice President, Abubakar Atiku says he has the utmost respect for Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, President of the Court of Appeal, who just recused herself from presiding over the 2019 presidential election petitions tribunal on Wednesday.
Atiku, candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, said his demand for Bulkachuwa to step aside from the trial was based solely on her being the wife of an APC chieftain and not because of any other personal issue.
“My legal team’s objection was not a reflection on Justice Bulkachuwa’s character or competence. As a matter of fact, I have great respect for her, being a pioneer and advocate for gender equality and female empowerment,” Atiku said via a statement issued on Thursday.
“It is with this in mind that I commend Justice Bulkachuwa for recusing herself from the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Panel hearing my petition against the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Her action showed courage and is an act of patriotism. She has, by this action, increased the confidence the public have for the judiciary.
“Not only do I commend her, I also pray, especially in this holy month of Ramadan, that Justice will be done by the tribunal according to the fear of God and not in keeping with respect for the powers that be.”
Justice Bulkachuwa decided to stand aside as the chairman of the presidential election petitions tribunal for personal reasons.
Earlier on Wednesday, the tribunal had dismissed Atiku’s application asking Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the tribunal on the basis of being a wife and mother respectively to two prominent members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Delivering the judgement, Justice Peter Ige said the applicants had not presented enough materials before the court to show that Justice Bulkachuwa will be biased in the hearing and the decisions on the petition.
Ige held that Bulkachuwa’s filial relationship to members of the APC is not capable of prejudicing the case, hence his decision to dismiss the application.
However, Bulkachuwa went ahead to withdraw from the case citing personal reasons.