The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal has fixed May 22 to entertain an application seeking Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from sitting over the five-man panel, alleging fear of preconceived bias.
The court had fixed Wednesday to begin pre-hearing session on petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, challenging outcome of the February 23 presidential election.
Bulkachuwa, also the President of the Court of Appeal, adjourned proceedings on the matter to allow the two petitioners file a formal application against her membership of the panel.
Earlier, Dr. Levy Uzoukwu (SAN), Counsel for both PDP and Abubakar, filed an oral application to be granted permission for all counsel to meet with the members of the panel in Chambers.
Bulkachuwa went ahead to grant the request by ordering a stand down on the matter.
Upon their arrival from chambers, Bulkachuwa immediately disclosed in the open court the informal call by the petitioners for her to withdraw from participating in the hearing of their petition.
She however said such an action must be formally placed before the court through an application that should be argued by all parties.
She said: “The counsel for the two petitioners have raised an issue in chambers directing me to recuse myself from hearing their petition.
“This matter has initially been brought to my attention in a letter from the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, dated May 8.
“Their request is now in a public domain, but the counsel for the petitioners must approach the court with a formal application.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that PDP and its presidential candidate in the February 23 general election are before the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.
In another development, the tribunal granted Coalition for Change and its presidential candidate, Geff Ojinika, permission to serve President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with their petition by substituted means.
Bulkachuwa granted the leave following an exparte application brought to it by the applicants.
She held: “The applicants are hereby granted leave to serve President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo with the petition challenging their victory through substituted means.
“The first and second respondents should be served via the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress at No. 40 Blantyre Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja.
NAN reports that the C4C and its presidential candidate had informed the court on their difficulty in serving their petition on Buhari and Osinbajo.