The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday directed the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, to file a formal application asking the President of the Court of Appeal and chairman of the five-man panel, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to withdraw as a member of the tribunal.
The tribunal gave the directive following the meeting the panel members held with lawyers appearing in the case earlier on Wednesday.
Announcing the tribunal’s decision, Justice Bulkachuwa said that the petitioners’ legal team led by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu (SAN), asked her to recuse herself from the panel at the meeting held in chambers.
She said the request by the Uzoukwu followed an earlier letter she received from the PDP’s National Chairman, Uche Secondus, also demanding she disqualifies herself from further participation in the panel.
She said since the matter was already in the public domain, the panel had decided to have the issue treated openly.
Responding, Uzoukwu said his team would file a formal application to that effect on Thursday.
The respondents’ lawyers comprising Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Yunus Usman (SAN) and Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) representing President Muhammadu Buhari, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the All Progressives Congress, said they would need time to respond to the application.
She then adjourned till May 22 for the hearing of the petitioners’ application.
In its letter received to the Court of Appeal’s President’s office in Abuja, on May 9, the PDP had alleged that as the Chairman of the five-man panel, Bulkachuwa would likely be biased in the handling of the tribunal’s proceedings because of her ties to family members belonging to the All Progressives Congress.
The party, in the letter which was signed by its National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and it’s National Secretary, Umaru Tsauri, specifically said Bulkachuwa’s husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, contested and won the Bauchi North Senatorial District election on the platform of the APC during the February 23, 2019 poll.
The party also complained that Bulkachuwa could have by a comment she made during the inaugural sitting of the tribunal on Wednesday, prejudged its petition challenging the outcome of the February 23, 2019, presidential election.
It stated that Bulkachuwa’s claim in her speech to the effect that there would always be complaints no matter how an election was well-conducted, had “rocked” its confidence in the panel led by her.
$2billion Arms Fraud: Group Petitions Buhari Over Probe Panelists
A group has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to re-examine the composition of the $2 billion fund misappropriated during the last regime of President Jonathan.
The group, Egalitarian Coalition of Nigeria, in an open letter to President Buhari, alleged that senior members of his cabinet who were complicit in the transaction
cannot turned round to become a judge in case involving them.
When the president assumed office in 2015, he directed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to convene an investigative committee on the procurement of hardware and ammunition in the Armed Forces from 2007 till now.
Accordingly, the National Security Adviser, constituted the Committee on Audit of Defence Equipment Procurement, CADEP.
But the group in the petition, signed by Dr. Suleiman Attahiru, Executive Director and Sir Fabian Aigbosua (KSJ),
Secretary, told President Buhari, that domiciling the powers to constitute the committee in the Office of the National Security Adviser was albeit an error because the National Security Adviser, Babagana Mungono was a part of the rot in the system at the time as Commander, Brigade of Guards, Chief of Defence Intelligence Agency and later Commandant TRADOC in 2013 when he retired from the Nigerian Army.
”Mr. President, there is no way the NSA, Babagana Mungono could feign ignorance of all the underhand dealings in the purchase of arms and ammunition in the period under review because of the strategic positions he occupied.
”Mr. President, and as predicted, the NSA did well to cover his tracks by taking charge of the proceeding of the committee and ensuring that underhand deals linked to him while he was within the corridors of power were left untouched by the committee. All of these are in public space.
”Mr. President, as a fact, some members of CADEP are culprits in the same act in which they have crucified others just because the National Security Adviser has your ears and attention at all times.
”This was evident in the arrest of Air Commodore Usman Mohammed, a member of CADEP by the Department of State Security for fronting for members of CADEP in receiving financial gratification from those been investigated by the committee”, the group said.
Lawan: My Support For Buhari Will Not Make Senate His Rubber Stamp
Ahmad Lawan, majority leader of the Senate, says the national assembly will not become President Muhammadu Buhari’s “rubber stamp” if he is elected Senate president.
Lawan told journalists in Abuja on Saturday that although he is a fan of Buhari, his support for the president will not jeopardize the upper legislative chamber under his leadership.
Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) had endorsed Lawan to succeed Bukola Saraki as Senate president.
The Yobe lawmaker said he will ensure that the decisions of his colleagues be carried out without any fear or favour.
“I won’t deny it; I am a president Buhari man. I believe in him and I believe in my party because of the ideals they stand for. But if you believe in someone and they have an issue that you think can be carried out in a certain way other than the way it was presented, suggesting you go the other way demonstrates that you are really for that person.” he said.
“So my support for the president, for example, must not be misconstrued as going to make the national assembly a rubber stamp if I am senate president.
“The function of the legislature is for the members of the legislature in majority to take a decision after a debate or whatever; then the minority would have had their say and the decision goes to the majority. You cannot as a presiding officer say no, I am not going to go with that position. Else you will be sacked.”
Lawan also said that the legislature and executive must ensure they work harmoniously for the common good of Nigerians.
“If you choose to fight, the two arms suffer and the country suffers even more because it is not possible for you to fight and get something done for the country. I don’t belong to the school of thought of encouraging fighting between the two arms,” he said.
“When you have to work together, you will disagree, and by the design of the constition, the legislature has been given some functions that will naturally make the executive sit up.”
Release Our N25bn, ASUU Tells FG
The Academic Staff Union of Universities has urged the Federal Government to release the N25bn it approved for lecturers.
ASUU President, Prof Biodun Ogunyemi, made the demand during a valedictory lecture and book presentation by the former Vice-Chancellor of Michael Okpara University, Umudike, Prof Ikenna Onyido, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, on Saturday.
He said the union was getting impatient with the FG over the delay in releasing the money.
However, Ogunyemi denied reports they were planning to embark on strike over the matter.
He said, “ASUU has not said it is going on strike. What we said was the reported N25bn the Federal Government said it had approved, we’ve not seen it.
“When we signed the Memorandum of Action with government on February 7, we agreed that by February 28, the N25bn would be released, and government signed it. We have yet to see it three months after.
“That’s why we’re saying that government has defaulted and if our members come up with any decision because government has defaulted, the leadership can’t stop them. That’s the challenge we have.
“We’re only calling on Nigerians to prevail on government to make good its promises and not just to tell us about paper release. Let’s see the actual release.”
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