The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have asked Chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the hearing the election petition on allegations of bias.
They made the prayer at the private meeting with the panel inside the justices Chambers.
Immediately proceedings resumed, Wednesday, at the tribunal for a pre-hearing in the Atiku and PDP’s petition, lead counsel, Dr Levi Uzoukwu (SAN), sought for a private audience between lead counsel in the matter and members of the panel.
However, after reconvening, Justice Bulkachuwa in the open court ruled that the applicants should approach the court formally by filing a motion on notice.
Justice Bulkachuwa said since the request of the petitioners had been in the public domain, it would be better for the petitioners to come by way of a formal application.
Responding, Uzoukwu told the panel that the petitioners would unfailingly file their application Thursday, May 16, 2019 and sought for a short adjournment.
While counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Ustaz SAN, said they were not opposed to the application, counsel to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), said he was ready to respond to the application if the petitioners were ready to move the application orally.
He however said that if the petitioners preferred a formal application, then they would be asking for the normal seven days provided by the law to respond.
Counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lateef Fagbemi SAN, said he aligned himself with the position of Olanipekun.
Consequently, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “Application yet to be filed is adjourned to May 22 for hearing.”
Meanwhile, the tribunal has ordered the service of the petition of the Coalition for Change (C4C) on Buhari through substituted service.
The court ordered that the petition on Buhari be served on him through any of the national officers of the APC at the party’s national headquarters at No 40 Blantyre Street, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The court adjourned the matter to May 22 to hear the application.
…more details later.