By Adamu Gwazuwang.
The Appeal Court ruling dismissing the request for head of the
Presidential Election Tribunal Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse
herself from the case as requested by Atiku Abubakar’s counsel is an
indication of the decline in the sensitivity of Nigerian judges to
issues that question their integrity and the credibility of their
We only need to recall that in 1999, Justice Umaru Abdullahi as
President of the Court of Appeal did not even wait to be asked before
voluntarily recusing himself from presiding over the Presidential
Election Tribunal at the inauguration, admitting that his wife was an
election official, to realize how low judge’s sensitivity to loss of
integrity has plunged today.
Thus, Zainab Bulkachuwa, the judge at the centre of the fiasco, did not
see any possibility of being perceived as susceptible to undue influence
presiding over an election petition between APC and PDP while her
husband and son remained prominent members of the APC.
She adamantly ignored sustained public outrage and even citations of
established judicial pronouncements and precedence upholding similar
filial relationships as basis for biased considerations in adjudication
and recusal of less recalcitrant judges.
When she finaĺly succumbed she claimed it was “voluntary” and
conjured vindication from the validation contrived by her compliant
subordinates’ professed inability to detect any link between husband and
wife or mother and child, capable of swaying Her Lordship’s human
judgment. Left to them, she should stay on the panel emulating the
statue outside the court depicting a mature, busty blindfolded lady,
with open ears, wielding a sword above a book in a symbolic indication
of what might befall anyone thinking blindness is deafness!
Since they are so convinced of the ineffectual nature of Justice Zainab
Bulkachuwa’s family bonds as to declare it inadmissible in evidence,
the remaining judges could as well perfect their perfidy by sustaining
the predictable trajectory of Her Lordship’s jurisdiction over the case,
since she got no courage to remain from their endorsement.
Justice Umaru Abdullahi obviously belongs to a more morally-motivated,
justice- sensitized and therefore credible generation of Nigerian judges
than, for lack of a better term of reference, the Bulkachuwa bench.
Justice Abdullahi didn’t need any further “evidence” or “proof of
connection” to determine that he should not be a judge in a matter with
which his wife has a link, remote or direct. His conscience and high
moral standing was enough for him to place the fear of God above the
pleasures of the world.
Meanwhile Nigerians must brace up for more “legalities” that ridicule
justice as the Bulkachuwa factor continues to redefine bias in the minds
of her “brothers”on the presidential election tribunal. At the end of
the day we should all be reminded of the words of late Mohammed Abubakar
Rimi, former governor of Kano State in reaction to his unjust
conviction before a Special Military Tribunal : “there will also be
judgment of posterity and ultimately judgement of Almighty God in the
ADAMU GWAZUWANG, A public analyst writes from Abuja.