By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Election Petition Tribunal on Wednesday fixed May 22 for hearing on an application by the Peoples Democratic Party and its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, seeking the withdrawal of tribunal Chairman, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, from the panel.
Justice Bulkachuwa fixed the date shortly after counsel to Atiku and the PDP announced that they had an application seeking Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from hearing of the petition.
Shortly after the tribunal resumed at about 10.20am for a pre-hearing in Atiku and PDP’s petition, lead counsel, Dr Levi Uzoukwu SAN, sought for a private audience between lead counsel in the matter and members of the panel.
When the court resumed at about 12 noon, Justice Bulkachuwa said the meeting discussed extensively the application by Atiku and PDP that she recused herself from the matter.
Justice Bulkachuwa however said since the request of the petitioners had been in the public domain, it would be better for the petitioners to come by way of a formal application.
Responding, Uzoukwu told the panel that the petitioners will unfailingly file their application tomorrow May 16, 2019 and sought for a short adjournment.
While counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Ustaz SAN, said they were not opposed to the application, counsel to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, said he was ready to respond to the application if the petitioners were ready to move the application orally.
He however said, if the petitioners prefer a formal application, then they will be asking for the normal 7 days provided by the law to respond.
Counsel to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Lateef Fagbemi SAN, said he aligned himself with the position of Olanipekun.
Consequently, Justice Bulkachuwa said, “Application yet to be filed is adjourned to May 22 for hearing”.
Meanwhile, the tribunal has ordered the service of the petition of the Coalition for Change (C4C) on Buhari through substituted service.
The court ordered that the petition on Buhari be served on him through any of the national officers of the APC at the party’s national headquarters at No 40 Blantyre street, Wuse 2, Abuja.
The order was sequel to an application moved by lawyer of the C4C, Obed Aguh.