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Following observed delays in the replacement of the self-recused chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has petitioned the Court of Appeal for immediate replacement so that the matter could be determined within the allowable time limit.
Atiku is contesting in his request that the outplaying scenario could best be described as a deliberate ploy to truncate the constitutional calendar of the presidential election petition before the Tribunal.
Recall that Justice Bulkachuwa, whose husband is a Senator-Elect under the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), had recused and disqualified herself from the Tribunal following the petition of the PDP and Atiku/Obi legal team holden at the Appeal Court Abuja
Atiku’s request came 11 days after the president of the Court of Appeal and erstwhile chairperson of the 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, disqualified herself.
Atiku in a letter through his counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), dated May 31, 2019, urged the President of the Court of Appeal to appoint a replacement forthwith, since he knows the Tribunal has a timeline to prosecute the petitions, adding that already, 76 days have been expended out of the 180 days allowed by law, as seen in Section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act (2010 as amended).
Uzoukwu petition read in parts: “I am one (ail Silas Joseph) of the Counsel in the Legal Team prosecuting the above Petition on behalf of the Petitioners.
“I have the authority of the Lead Counsel, Dr Livy Uzoukwu (SAN) to write this letter. My Lord will recall that on 22nd May 2019, the above-mentioned Petition came up for a motion requesting that my Lord to recuse herself from further presiding or participating in this Petition.
“At the end of the proceedings, my Lord graciously recused herself on personal grounds and promised to appoint another Justice to continue with the Petition.”
Pundits say Electoral Act provides that all election petitions has a trial window of 90 days from the day the result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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