Call for Bulkachuwa’s disqualification, discrimination against women, Groups say
NEWS DIGEST–Two groups, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and the Women In Nigeria, have described the application filed before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, asking the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, to withdraw her membership of the five-man panel as ‘discrimination against women’.
The application was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar, asking Bulkachuwa to withdraw from the case due to the status of her husband, Adamu Bulkachuwa, and her son Aliyu Abubakar, as top members of the All Progressives Congress.
Atiku and his party had filed their petition before the tribunal to challenge the victory of the APC and its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, at the poll.
But in a statement signed by the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, and Ms. Chioma Kanu of Women In Nigeria, the groups described the application by the PDP as a case of gender dsicrimination “under a baseless political reason and unjustified grounds that her spouse is a member of a political party”.
The statement, titled, ‘Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa: CISLAC and WIN Decry Gender Discrimination’, read, “The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and Women In Nigeria condemns the ongoing unfair and undemocratic agitations to undermine the nation’s emerging effort at attaining inclusive, participatory and equal opportunity in both public and private spheres.
“A case in point is the ongoing agitation by some people to push out Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa as Chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Panel under a baseless political reason and unjustified ground that her spouse is a member of a political party.
“CISLAC and WIN work assiduously to advocate for gender equity and inclusiveness in appointive and elective positions with the view of achieving full implementation of the 35 per cent Affirmative Action for Women by governments at all levels.
“This is in compliance with the African Union’s Protocol on the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights, as ratified by member nations including Nigeria, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women which was also ratified by Nigeria.
“We are seriously concerned about the continued marginalisation, unchecked discrimination and abuse of women despite the existence of the ratified protocol, National Gender Policy, Violence Against Women Prohibition Act, Gender and Affirmative Action and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantee comprehensive rights to women, including the right to adequately engage in the political process, socio-economic space, health, justice system in both public and private spheres.
“We oppose the agitation by some groups to push out Justice Bulkachuwa as Chairman of the Presidential Election Petition Panel. According to Section 239 (1) (a), the Court of Appeal has the original jurisdiction to hear and determine questions as to whether any person has been validly elected to the office of the President or the Vice President, recall that Section 3 of the sixth schedule of the 1999 constitution empowers the President to appoint the Chairman and members of the Election Petition Tribunals; and the provision of section 145 of the Electoral Act 2010, states that President of the Court of Appeal may issue practice directions for Election Tribunals.
“In view of the fact that there is no established evidence of malpractice against her it is unfair to deny her this position. we call for total respect for the rights, dignity, freedom, and solidarity for womenfolk at all levels, we also urge all well-meaning Nigerians to kick against gender discrimination and encourage gender justice.”