By Bolaji O. Akinyemi.
Suspicion concerning possible compromise of the judiciary was first raised by Atiku Abubakar after the 2019 Presidential election.
The pioneer chair and President of the Court of Appeal then was Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, she was forced to recuse herself from the panel following a petition by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar who alleged likelihood of bias against him and his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, on account of the Judge being married to an All Progressive Congress, APC chieftain.
Four years down the line, the dirty linen of our judiciary which we are shy of washing in public got torn right before the world to expose the shame of a nation where justice is a ware that can be brought and sold if the price is right.
On Monday June 13, at the valedictory session of the 9th Senate, Senator Adamu Muhammadu Bulkachuwa, who represented Bauchi South took to the floor of the 9th senate and desecrated it on its closing night.
In flair without fairness, regaling himself as he trampled on his wife’s years of service to the nation on the bench, the lawmaker said he had influenced judicial decisions in favour of some Senators while his wife Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa was President of the Court of Appeal.
“My wife whose freedom and independence I encroached upon while (she) was in office, and she has been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment and extended her help to my colleagues”
No one but President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who himself has been dragged before the election petition panel of the Court of Appeal by Atiku and Obi can at least reassure Nigerians of any hope in the Judiciary by demanding that the reckless claim of rape of the judiciary in the desecrated hallowed Chambers of the Senate be probed and if found true, Bulkachuwa; Mr and Mrs should face the music.
Reacting after the 102nd meeting of the National Judicial Council on Wednesday 14th June 2023, the NBA President Yakubu Maikyau, noted that the Senator’s statement made him liable to be investigated and prosecuted even on his admission. He further said, it’s a huge negative impact on the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
This seems to be season of admission by APC chieftain of evils we already know is not possible without government compromise. From that of El-Rufai on the subjugation of Christians in Kaduna State and now Bulkachuwa’s of doing his best in the rape of our judiciary process and succeeding at it in most cases.
The pertinent questions therefore are, which are the cases? How many of our Senators were beneficiaries of this Jankara justice?
In our glare, Orji Uzor Kalu, APC was declared the winner of the February 2019 election to represent Abia North Senatorial District in the Senate. Mao Ohuabunwa challenged the victory of Kalu before the election petition tribunal, but Kalu ended up at the senate, was he at Bulkachuwa’s Buka?
The Battle at Kogi West was between the smart Smart Adeyemi who possibly knew where justice is served, may have gotten a full course meal against his well dressed garrulous opponent, Dino Melaye. Did Smart prove the streets slang; “Omo to mo way lo mo iwe”.
We may never know unless Bulkachuwa is allowed by the Senate to go the way Ahmed Lawan stopped him from going.
In Ekiti, the duo of Adeyeye and Olujimi slogged it out for who will feed fat at the hidden Buka of the 9th Senate where justice is served like pounded yam and efo riro. The ruling, Adeyeye described as purchased! The meal ended the portion of Olujimi, was she served by Mr or Mrs Bulkachuwa?
In Delta, James Manager edged out former Governor Uduaghan to the sumptuous meal at the Senate, the connection to the Bulkachuwas, we may never establish except both the husband and wife are allowed to speak, to follow their hearts at confessing their role at the rape of justice in the 9th Assembly.
Speaking on Mr Bulkachuwa’s damning confession that has elicited calls for investigation, Soji Oye, spokesperson for NJC, told the media on Thursday that the NJC was aware of Mr Bulkachuwa’s confession.
“They are on it. The judiciary is on it. We heard it just like every other person. We heard it. But you know she is retired. She has retired from service. No disciplinary action can be taken against any retired official,” Mr Oye said.
Asked if the council was considering a probe and review of cases of politically exposed persons under Mrs Bulkachuwa, Mr Oye said, “The NJC is looking at it too just like every other person.”
If the NJC is looking at it just like every other person, then the onus is on us to not to stop looking at it till NJC see what we are seeing and do something about it.
“The NJC is considering it too because we all heard it just like every other person. It is during the meeting the NJC will take action,” Mr Oye told the media but said he was unaware if Mrs Bulkachuwa’s issue was discussed in the council’s 102 statutory meeting on Wednesday.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, Chidi Odinkalu, former National Human Rights Commission chairman, was quoted to have said “the @njcNIG met and failed, refused, or neglected to adopt a position on the most serious issue affecting judicial integrity in #Nigeria” and that “@njcNIG as the institution responsible to investigate the facts of what Adamu Bulkachuwa said & its effects on the judicial system, has instead chosen to unlock.”
He added, “This is a disgrace. They spit at the judicial independence and integrity that they claim to defend.”
On Wednesday, the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said only the NJC could probe Ms Bulkachuwa
As at this moment, nothing has been heard from the Institution of the National Assembly, particularly the Senate whose Chamber Bulkachuwa desecrated. The spokesperson for the Appeal Court is mute. The Chief Justice of Nigeria may have heard or is pretending not to have heard.
And the Presidency is at, hear something and say nothing mood.
The Renewed hope mantra of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is most needed in the judiciary and this is an opportunity to prove that his government hasn’t captured the leadership of the judiciary the way they did with the Senate. Will justice come out of the ongoing election petition against the background of Bulkachuwa’s revelation of their Buka where the unjust fed fat on justice?