NOTHING is wrong about spouses sharing confidences which should normally be private. Everything is wrong with such marital bonds where they result in possible intentional mis-carriage of justice. Still worse, is when one of the parties brags about his interference with judiciary processes as an achievement to be celebrated at the valedictory session of the Senate.
Senator Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa chose 10 June 2023, his last day of representing Bauchi North, to thank his wife, and remind some of his colleagues that his wife assisted them. He would have said more if Senate President Ahmed Lawan had not shepherded him to relative safety.
Bulkachuwa, 83, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs thought he had something important to say. He was bent on saying it importantly. It was possible that the import of his position was lost on him entirely. Perhaps, the affected colleagues were not deeply appreciative of the assistance.
Did he also forget that the wife Justice Zianab Adamu Bulkachuwa, whose six-year tenure as the President of the Court of Appeal ended in 2020 would be affected by his utterances? He actually took exception to Lawan leading him to less damage. There was hardly anything to add. Nobody could believe Bulkachuwa’s effrontery.
Said Bulkachuwa, “Mr. President, at my age I don’t think I will lobby anybody under the sun. I will do the right thing, and I always do the right thing and sincerely and honestly too. So, I look at faces in this chamber, who have helped me and sought for my help when my wife was the President of the Court of Appeal.”
An alarmed Lawan intervened. “I think I will advise that you just round up and take your seat…this kind of insinuation will mean that there was favour and the rest of it. I don’t think it is a good idea.”
Bulkachuwa continued as if he did not understand the safety net that Lawan had thrown his way. “Well, Mr. Chairman, I must say that okay to round up, since that is what you want me to do. I will do that and must thank, particularly my wife whose freedom and independence I encroached upon while she was in office; and she had been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment and extended her help to my colleagues.”
“Please, I don’t think it is a good idea going in this direction. It is not a good idea,” Lawan finally got him to stop. The damage had been done.
This was not bar room talk. It is even doubtful if Bulkachuwa imbibes bar things. Those who know him say he likes to speak his mind. He has more concerns about the quantity of what he said – volume of voice, not value of voice.
In his earlier days as the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he shredded an ambassadorial nominee from Edo State who apparently was not on the same side of the party with him. He asked Barrister Yamah Mohammed Musa his contributions to the party. “I was in the forefront of party members who conducted primary elections for all our House of Representatives candidates in the South West, one of whom is the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. I was also in the committee that conducted the APC primaries in Akwa Ibom aside other national assignments which contributed to the success of the party at the polls,” Musa said.
Angered committee members found the response offensive. Senator Ibikunle Amosun, APC Ogun Central, said, “I am from the South West and I know all that took place during the so-called primaries perpetrated by your committee and those who assigned you then. We don’t want you to carry this type of mindset to foreign post if eventually confirmed, so the earlier, you erased such unbecoming assignments as personal achievements, the better.”
Senator Rochas Okorocha, APC Imo West, weighed in, “Hope you are not being rewarded for the sham you called primaries and injustice done against loyal party members. Don’t ever mention that again or remind people of such stage-managed assignments.”
What does a nominee’s management of party primaries have to do with is ambassadorial duties? Only Bulkachuwa would know.
“My decisions were always based on the facts, the law and in accordance with my conscience and oath of office. Also, as President of the Court of Appeal, my fellow justices of the court can attest to the fact that I never interfered with the independence of any of the justices of the court in the discharge of their judicial functions,” a statement Mrs. Bulkachuwa personally signed read, in denying her husband’s position.
“My husband is a politician, but politics is a no-go area in the house. Even my children are aware of that. No politician is invited to the house. My husband can pursue whatever he wants to pursue as a politician, but we hardly discuss politics in the house. All these help to guard against any influence from any politician,” Mrs. Bulkachuwa had said in a February 2020 pre-retirement interview. Did she know this day was coming?
Olisa Agbakoba, former Nigeria Bar Association President, NBA, whose client Usman Tuggar lost the Bauchi North ticket to Bulkachuwa in three courts while challenging the APC primary, said the utterances should be probed. Mrs. Bulkachuwa was at the Court of Appeal at the time.
Yaukubu Maikyau, President of NBA wants the Senator arrested and prosecuted for his confession that points to the perversion of justice. Maikyau said Bulkachuwa’s valedictory speech hit at the integrity of the judiciary. Will NBA do more than speaking against Bulkachuwa? Who would make the report that would lead to the arrest?
Can a retired justice, or judge be called to account for her days in office if corruption allegations are made against the judicial officer?
“Well, I was not even allowed to finish up, I just began by thanking her. She tolerated me, I am in politics while she was in law. The favours I solicited from her; it was her nature to help people. I didn’t even explain what kind of help I was referring to, every employee whether lawyer, engineer or doctor can render assistance in their work. Assistance doesn’t mean that you contravene the law or do something wrong,” is Bulkachuwa’s latest defence.
While we ponder that, Bulkachuwa, the Senator, has his right to speak. Lawan abbreviated him obviously to protect the Senate. Bulkachuwa is ready to give us a treatise on the different types of help that a judicial officer, in this instance his wife, who as President of the Court of Appeal had more than a fleeting interest in electoral matters, gave to Senators.
Should Bulkachuwa not be telling judges his story? Nobody should stop him this time.
.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues