Opposition political parties under the aegis of the Coalition of United Political Parties on Tuesday released a list of five Justices of the Court of Appeal who it said have been approved to hear the petition of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, over the February 23 election.
It claimed that the list was approved by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, “with the endorsement of the Buhari APC.”
The coalition’s national spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja.
Ugochinyere listed members of the panel to include Bulkachuwa (Presiding Judge), Justice Abdu Aboki, Justice Peter O. Ige, Justice J. S. Ikyegh and Justice S. C. Oseji.
He alleged that the list was drawn from a list of eight justices submitted to the Presidency for approval.
He said the position of the CUPP was that Bulkachuwa, Aboki and Ige should immediately recuse themselves from the panel because they are likely to be biased in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari whose victory Atiku is challenging.
He said while Bulkachuwa is a wife of a senator-elect on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Aboki and Ige had rejected Atiku’s application for forensic analysis of the materials used for the presidential election.
Ugochinyere said, “It is based on the foregoing and the evidence in the custody of the CUPP that we immediately, categorically and unambiguously demand that Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, Justice Abdu Aboki and Justice Peter Ige recuse themselves from the panel.
“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 recuse 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 list 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. Nigerians must rise in defence of the judiciary and insist that justicemust 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 tribunal panel that has been briefed with one agenda, which is to stamp the electoral robbery perpetrated by her husband’s party, APC.
“Announcing justices who have shown bias already to the case of Atiku, even at the preliminary stage of ordinary requests for forensic analysis of election materials, will not augur well for the stability of Nigeria and the institution/wheel of justice.”