- Stakeholders call for the removal of Justice Bulkachuwa
Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, is not happy with the President of the Court of Appeal, PCA, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, over her decision to sack the former Chairman of the Rivers Governorship Election Tribunal, Justice Mu’azu Pindiga, without following due process.
A highly placed judicial source told Nigerian Pilot Saturday that the PCA had been away from office since the last week of July, before and only returned to the country on August 31 and unilaterally took the decision without intimating or carrying the necessary stakeholders along.
In addition, senior counsels to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and that of the Governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, will next week file a letter of protest to the CJN, Justice Mahmoud Mohammed over the decision.
According to the source, Justice Bulkachuwa was even yet to formally resume duties when she took the decision to send Justice Kundigste packing for reasons yet to be made public.
Another source at the National Judicial Council, NJC, yesterday, also told Nigerian Pilot Saturday that the council is worried about the alleged public conduct of the PCA following the recent book written by one Professor Akinseye Goerge on Justice Bulkachuwa.
The launch of the book, which is based on election petition tribunal, was stopped by the CJN.
The NJC source further added that since the removal of the chairman of the Rivers Governorship Tribunal, he has received more than 100 calls from stakeholders in the Nigerian judiciary particularly the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and some Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, condemning the action.
The source, who said some of them had called for the outright removal from office as the PCA, added that some of the senior lawyers would not want their names mentioned for the fear of victimisation when they appear before her court.
However, some stakeholders in the Nigerian judiciary are of the opinion that the Federal Government might have been beaming its searchlight on the leadership of the election petition tribunals with a view to ensuring that members’ absolute integrity is not compromised.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday recalls that the Chairman of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Mu’azu Pindiga was suddenly removed and replaced with another jurist, Suleiman Ambursa, who was previously on the Rivers State National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal panel on the orders of Justice Bulkachuwa.
Although no reason was given for the removal, Nigerian Pilot Saturday learnt that security agencies working in concert with the leadership of the National Judicial Council had been discreetly monitoring activities of the heads of the tribunals using secret agents to ensure that they do not compromise their positions.
A top official of one of the judicial agencies told our correspondent last night that the sudden removal of the former chairman, which sparked protests in Abuja, yesterday, may have been sequel to a security report against the sacked justice.
“The truth of the matter is that the tribunals are being monitored by both security agencies and the NJC to ensure that the outcome of the panels reflect nothing but the truth.
“Indeed, the chairmen and members of the tribunals are being closely monitored by security agents working in concert with the NJC to ensure the integrity of their verdicts.
“What is happening is in line with the vision and resolve of the new leadership of the judiciary in Nigeria and there is no hiding place for anyone who deviates from that vision,” the official, who requested for anonymity, said.
Findings showed that the Appeal Court was uncomfortable with the situation in which the orders of the tribunal were blatantly rebuffed as the chairman could not firmly enforce its decisions, thereby making a mockery of the judiciary.