The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal continues hearing today, Wednesday, May 22.
Atiku and his party are challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential poll.
INEC had declared President Buhari the winner of the 2019 presidential election. According to the electoral body, Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat Atiku who polled 11,262,978 to lose the election with a margin of 3,928,869 votes.
However, Atiku and his party claimed they won the election, citing a presidential election result allegedly gotten from INEC's server.
Meanwhile, the tribunal's Wednesday sitting is scheduled to hear an application by Atiku and the PDP for the disqualification of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, as a member and head of the five-man tribunal.
They alleged that Justice Bulkachuwa would likely be biased against them in her handling of the hearing of their case due to her alleged family ties to top members of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
They alleged that her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, won the Bauchi North senatorial election on the platform of the APC.
They also added in their motion that her biological son, Aliyu Abubakar, was not only a card-carrying member of the APC, but also contested the Gombe state APC governorship primary election.
The tribunal has been sitting at the Court of Appeal Headquarters between the Federal Secretariat and the Three Arms Zone Source: UGC
They, therefore, urged Bulkachuwa her to recuse herself from further participation in the proceedings of the tribunal and asked the tribunal to replace her with one of the over 80 other Justices of the court qualified to serve on the panel.
Legit.ng will be bringing live updates of the proceedings as the tribunal hears the PDP and Atiku's petitions.
Lawyers at the presidential election tribunal Source: UGC
Lawyers at the presidential election tribunal Source: UGC
May 22 10:15 AM
The police in Abuja had on Tuesday, May 21, said they will block some major roads in the federal capital as part of security measures near the venue of the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal on Wednesday.
The tribunal has been sitting at the Court of Appeal Headquarters between the Federal Secretariat and the Three Arms Zone.
To control the crowd that may besiege the court on Wednesday morning, the police said there will be diversion of traffic by Goodluck Ebele Way and Shehu Shagari Way.
The police apologised to those who have businesses on those routes, but urged them to find alternatives because the advisory was a necessary security measure.
May 22 10:35 AM
APC's lawyer arrives the tribunal
APC's lawyer Festus Keyamo present as everyone awaits the tribunal's hearing.
May 22 11:03 AM
Tribunal to stand down for 30 minutes
The court is standing down for 30 minutes as the petitioners seek time to respond to the counter affidavits just filled this morning.
May 22 11:10 AM
HDP asks the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear in President Buhari
Also, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) prayed the Tribunal to compel the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria not to swear in President Buhari into office on May 29 as planned.
May 22 11:10 AM
Protest erupts outside the court premises
Outside the court premises, there are pro-Atiku and pro-PDP protesters calling for the removal of Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa from the Presidential Appeal Panel.
The protesters are carrying different placards reading: Justice Bulkachuwa must go! Bulkachuwa is biased! Justice Bulkachuwa cannot continue as a member o the presidential election tribunal Panel!
May 22 11:29 AM
PDP's legal team asks for time to respond to a petition just received from APC
The counsel representing the PDP, Levi Uzuegwu, asked for time to respond to a petition received this morning from the respondents on Thursday.
Uzuegwu accused the third respondent, the APC, of serving the opposition with a motion 13 minutes ago.
He described the action by the respondent as an ambush against his client. His request for a stand down was approved as there was no objection from any other counsel.
The tribunal thereafter stood down its proceedings for 30 minutes after objections to the application requesting the President of the Court of Appeal to step down.
The 30 minutes break followed the objections made by the APC, President Buhari and INEC opposing PDP and Atiku’s application asking the PCA to recuse herself from the hearing over her family’s links to the APC.
May 22 12:25 PM
Court resumes, begins hearing on the applications by HDP
The tribunal has resumed sitting. The hearing on the applications by the HDP ongoing.
May 22 12:43 PM
The court goes on another recess
Another recess after hearing on the HDP's application.
Counsels from both parties continues deliberations on application for Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the election tribunal.
While the PDP stood its grounds based on Justice Bulkachuwa’s culpable affiliation to the APC by virtue of her husband and son's membership of the party, the APC and INEC based their arguments on conventions and gender.
Lead counsel to the President Buhari, Wole Olanipekun, submitted that the President of Court of Appeal and chairman of the panel, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, is at liberty to withdraw or not to, from the panel.
Olanipekun states that Section 237 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (the Constitution) creates the Court of Appeal, while section 237 (2) (a) of the Constitution establishes the office of the President of the Court of Appeal.
After hearing the submissions by parties involved the panel adjourned to 2pm.
At the resumption of the recess, the panel is expected to give its ruling on the applications filed by the PDP.
May 22 14:59 PM
Tribunal resumes hearing
At the resumption of the hearing, lawyer to APC, Lateef Fagbemi said this is not the first time in the history of the judiciary that a judicial officer will be asked to recuse himself/herself on the basis of bias.
“This is not the first time this is happening. Just recently, Justice Oyewole, whose immortal contribution was acknowledged by the counsel for the applicants a while ago, was written against not to be allowed to sit on the appeal panel on the Osun state governorship election petition.
“As vague as the ‘likelihood of bias’ is, it has its own boundaries.
“The exhortation in all the authorities that have been cited, recognise that each case will have to be dealt with on its own merit," he said.
He said the matter before the court has nothing to do with governorship or National Assembly elections.
He also noted that whatever the constitution of a political party is, it is the constitution of the country that is supreme.
According to the lawyer, nowhere in the Nigerian Constitution that the President is allowed to remove a governor or a member of the National Assembly.
“My conclusion, with respect, is that the application is blackmail. On the facts and the law, the application is most unmeritorious.
“But, with respect, next year, your lordship, the President of the Court of Appeal, will be bowing out gloriously by God’s grace.
“Your name, either the one you acquired before you got married or the one you acquired after you got married, none is for you alone. You hold them in trust and you have been blessed – being the first female President of the Court of Appeal in Nigeria.
“My lord, your youthful look may confuse one. You are old enough to be my mother. My lord, you standing in as my parent, I will say, ‘Mum, leave the matter," the lawyer concluded.