There is heavy security presence at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, as the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, begins pre-hearing session on petition the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, lodged to challenge the outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
At the resumed proceeding on the petition marked CA PEPC/002/2019, Atiku, through his lead counsel, Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, SAN, applied to meet the five-man panel tribunal headed by the Court of Appeal President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, in chambers.
Even though Uzoukwu did not disclose reason behind his application to have a private meeting with the panel, however, a lawyer in his team who pleaded anonymity, told Vanguard that the essence of the meeting was to urge the tribunal Chairman, Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the matter.
It will be recalled that the PDP had opposed Justice Bulkachuwa’s presence on the panel, noting that her husband is a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, which is a respondent in the matter PDP had urged Justice Bulkachuwa to in the interest of justice, disqualify herself in the matter.
Meantime, neither counsel to President Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, nor that of the APC, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, opposed Atiku’s application.
Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which initially challenged the request through its lawyer, Mr. Yunus Uztaz, SAN, later conceded to the application.
Consequently, the panel okayed a stand-down on the matter, even as it allowed all the parties to nominate two lawyers each to attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, armed security operatives blocked every route to the Court of Appeal premises, though they allowed journalists access upon proper identification