The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, on Wednesday, bowed to pressure and recused herself as a member of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
Her decision was amidst allegations of likelihood of bias levelled against her by the Peoples Democratic Party, and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
But during the ruling on the petition on Wednesday Opposing, INEC’s lead counsel, Yunus Usman (SAN), said the application by the petitioners was discriminatory against female judges married to politicians by virtue of Section 42 of the constitution.
He said, “We have to be careful. Let no politician wreck the only institution keeping the Nigerian democracy. My lords, I urge you not to be lured by this argument because it is an attempt to throw a stone into the market because we don’t know whom it may hit.”
On his part, Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), also said, “My lord, our position is clear. No one can impose his authority or his will on the court, particularly on the President of the Court of Appeal.
“My lord, it is your discretion to constitute the panel. The 2nd respondent (Buhari) has no say in the constitution of the panel or the panel of any election petitions tribunal.
Also reacting to Bulkachiwa’s withdrawal, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the Women in Nigeria (WIN), on Wednesday, agreed with the INEC counsel, Usman, that the application by the PDP and Atiku as discriminatory against women.
In a statement signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, and Ms. Chioma Kanu of Women In Nigeria, the groups described the application as a case of gender discrimination “under a baseless political reason and unjustified grounds that her spouse is a member of a political party.”