Atiku vs Buhari: Tribunal resumes hearing today, as panel gets new head

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ABUJA—The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja will today resume proceedings on the petition challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the February 23 presidential election.

Ogun guber: APM kicks against disbandment of panel(Opens in a new browser tab)

The tribunal had on May 22, adjourned further hearing on the case the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, lodged against the outcome of the presidential poll, after President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, recused herself from presiding over the panel.

Bulkachuwa disqualified herself following a motion the petitioners filed to challenge her decision to preside over the five-member panel tribunal.

PDP and Atiku had insisted that Bulkachuwa’s involvement was prejudicial to their case against President Buhari, since her husband and son, are card-carrying members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, which is the 3rd Respondent in the petition.

Despite a ruling of the tribunal that dismissed PDP’s contentions, Justice Bulkachuwa, on May 22, voluntarily stepped aside, promising to appoint another Justice to head the panel.

Meanwhile, Vanguard learned, yesterday, that Bulkachuwa may likely be replaced by another female justice.

A source at the appellate court told Vanguard that Justice Monica Dongban-Menssem, who is currently serving under Enugu Division of the court, may take over from the disqualified PCA.

Other justices on the panel are Abdu Aboki, Peter Ige, Samuel Oseji and Joseph Ikyegh.

PDP and Atiku had earlier expressed concern over delay in the appointment of Bulkachuwa’s replacement.

In a letter they sent to Justice Bulkachuwa on May 31, the petitioners, decried that they were already running against time considering that the case against Buhari must be concluded and judgement delivered within 180 days.

As it stands, the petitioners have barely 92 days left to call witnesses and adduce evidence that the 2019 presidential election was manipulated.

The available days will equally be shared by all the respondents in the matter, including Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, President Buhari, and APC, who are all expected to defend the outcome of the election