The legal team of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s main opposition party and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, have written to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, expressing their concern over delayed tribunal hearing.
Naija News recalls that Justice Bulkachuwa recused herself from the five-man panel of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal after the PDP and Abubakar raised the alarm over her “connection” with the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigeria’s ruling party.
However, since she withdrew from the tribunal a week ago, her replacement was yet to be announced in order for the tribunal hearing to continue.
This online news platform understands that Justice Bulkachuwa has the exclusive power to appoint a judge of the court to serve on the tribunal’s panel.
Worried that a replacement had yet to be provided for her on the panel, PDP and Abubakar, wrote Justice Bulkachuwa, reminding her of her promise to appoint her replacement.
Speaking with PUNCH, the petitioners’ lead counsel, Dr Liy Uzoukwu (SAN), confirmed his team had written to Justice Bulkachuwa to remind her of her promise to appoint her replacement.
The PDP and Abubakar head of legal team told PUNCH that the letter was “delivered at the President of the Court of Appeal’s office on Friday morning”.
His words: “I am not aware of any new development. We have not been served with any hearing notice. But we have written to the President of the Court of Appeal to remind her of her promise to bring in a replacement, having recused herself. It is yet to be fulfilled. That is where we are.
“We are waiting to see what will happen, having done that,” Ozoukwu said.
Asked if they were worried about the delay in the appointment of Justice Bulkachuwa’s replacement, the PDP and Abubakar head of the legal team said, “Of course, we are bound to be.”
Meanwhile, PDP and Abubakar filed a petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of the APC and its presidential candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the February 23 poll.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s electoral umpire, President Buhari and the APC are the three respondents to the petition.
Naija News understands that PDP and Abubakar, as at the time of filing this report, have lost 76 out of the 180 days within which their petition is required to be heard and determined by the tribunal.
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