Coalition of United Political Parties kicks against three of the five judges appointed to hear Atiku's petition

NIGERIA'S opposition political parties have released a list of five Court of Appeal judges who they claim have been approved to adjudicate in the petition filed by the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.


Following the February 23 presidential elections, Alhaji Abubakar decided to appeal the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) to declare President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) the victor. In line with the constitutional provisions, the Federal; Court of Appeal will serve as the election tribunal and the judges who will sit on it have just been named.


According to the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), the list was approved by the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, with the endorsement of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). CUPP spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, listed them as chairman Bulkachuwa, Justice Abdu Aboki, Justice Peter Ige, Justice J S Ikyegh, and Justice SC Oseji.


He alleged that the list was drawn from a shortlist of eight justices submitted to the presidency for approval. Mr Ugochinyere said justices Bulkachuwa, Aboki and Ige should immediately excuse themselves from the panel because they were likely to be bias in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari whose victory Alhaji Abubakar was challenging.


According to Mr Ugochinyere, while Justice Bulkachuwa is a wife of an APC senator-elect justices, Aboki and Ige had already become compromised by rejecting Alhaji Abubakar's application for forensic analysis of the materials used for the presidential election. He added: “The intelligence at our disposal which formed the basis for all the views canvassed in this statement is that these three justices have already given their commitment to the presidency that they will rule in favour of the president at the tribunal, hence they cannot dispense justice.


“Justices Aboki and Peter Ige, in furtherance of this commitment, had already and very strangely so denied Alhaji Atiku Abubakar his application for forensic analysis of the materials used for the presidential election. We also demand that Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa excuses herself from the administrative duty of reconstituting the panel but that should be done by an impartial senior justice of the court.


“This idea of the villa approving lists of Justices that will sit over any matter, particularly the one where the president is a party, is novel and tyranny taken too far. The president has annexed the judiciary and the hope of the common man is blighted, so Nigerians must rise in defence of the judiciary and insist that justice must be done in this circumstance.


“Let the world and Nigerians tell Justice Bulkachuwa not to take Nigerians for fools and bring the judiciary to further ridicule with her plan to constitute a panel that has been briefed with one agenda, which is to stamp the electoral robbery perpetrated by her husband’s party, the APC.”