“When we go back to this issue of Senator Bulkachuwa, its very unfortunate and it clearly shows, that, as a senator at that high level, he is not informed about the tendency of the rule of law. He doesn’t know, otherwise he would not have said it. This was a total ignorant, and for that I feel sorry for him, that he could make such a devastating admission”.
By Victor Ezeamka, June 16, 2023, News/Comments
Professor Itse Sagay, SAN, A distinguished scholar, teacher, legal luminary, author, human rights advocate, a former Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption under former President Muhammadu Buhari, has cautioned Nigerians against quick reaction to Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa’s video confessionary statement on Monday, saying to his colleagues, “I look at faces in this chamber whom have come to me and sought for my help when my wife was the President of the Court of Appeal.”
And then, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, who was presiding over the valedictory proceedings, of the 9th Assembly became surprised by the comments, and quickly interrupted the submissions of the 83-year-old, even as the Senator resisted and continued, , “And I must thank particularly, 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…
It could be recalled that Sen. Bulkachuwa’s wife, retired from the Court of Appeal’s bench in 2020, who was vested with enormous power and influence over electoral cases as then President of the Court of Appeal.
Professor Sagay, who spoke to our editor-in-chief, Mark Orgu, in a telephone conversation last night wondered how a man of his 80s, could descend so low to accusing his wife of influence which he encroached upon:
“It is a case of only one person, and is something that we would have said “The whole Judiciary”. That is the first point. And you seem to have… from the information that I have is more restrictive than what you journalists have. What I have is that, he informed his wife about the interest of some people who had cases before her or before the court. What you (journalists) are saying is, as if she carried out those requests. I don’t have such information, so, I will have to be careful. There is one thing for the old man-if he had made request from his wife, it is another thing to determine whether or not she actually carried out the requests”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, reemphasised that, Mr. Bulkachuwa, requesting her wife to help doesn’t mean that the wife actually helped. That is another step which we havent covered. The wife has to make a response:
“We have to ask the wife whether she helped. Yes, so I don’t want us to jump to that. That’s why I said, I don’t join band wagon in this country, because once there is an accusation on somebody, the whole country descends on that person. Today is Bawa of EFCC, everybody is descending on him. I don’t like it, because we do it without making any enquiry. When we go back to this issue of Senator Bulkachuwa, its very unfortunate and it clearly shows, that, as a senator at that high level, he is not informed about the tendency of the rule of law. He doesn’t know, otherwise he would not have said it. This was a total ignorant, and for that I feel sorry for him, that he could make such a devastating admission.
The former presidential advisory committee leader, however, does not want Sen. Bulkachuwa crucify for his action. “That is why I don’t want us to use a sledge hammer on him, but it opens our eyes to possibilities of what can be happening in many homes, we don’t know! So that is my view… I condemn what he did, but I don’t want us to be too hard on him”.
Meanwhile, with some prominent lawyers like Olisa Agbakoba sharing a view that some of the cases handled by the retired Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, as Appeal Court President, should be reviewed, Sagay shares a different opinion, stating that, he don’t know what cases some of them are talking about, as he had no knowledge:
“I cant just adopt what they are saying at all. That is… it has nothing to do with me, that is clear. One other thing I would like to add to all this is that, at times, we get our attention diverted. There are many other more serious problems in the legal profession in this country. Much more serious, in which some leaders of the profession have “Averted” some of the tenets and the principles of the profession. They have done it, they have gone away scot free, nobody has done anything about it, and yet, an old man who is ignorant, an innocent is getting lashes. I think we should take it easy with the old man”
Asked, if the law recognizes ignorant?, The Professor asserted however, that there’s no ignorant in law, but could be ignorant of facts:
“You are not permit to be ignorant of the law. Everybody is supposed to know the law, which you and I know is not correct, but is a principle of law”
Sagay, who is of the view, that there might be no need for investigating the senator, opined that, If the Senator just told her wife to carry out the act, and she didn’t do it, it would be unnecessary to continue to raise alarm but he thinks, it may be necessary to ask Justice Zainab some questions if there are enough facts to raise those questions, even as he alluded that Zainab cannot be compared to give evidence against his husband:
“Although, if I can remember, the wife is not compared to give evidence against his husband in a case , which it could be criminally affected. All those are there, but. Senator Bulkachuwa is quite an old man, he his at his 80s, and he is not a lawyer, and I think he spoke out of ignorance, which is very condemnable. What I see in the whole of this, is that, there is an opportunity for the whole country to be educated , like some of the ethics in the legal profession and of the rule of law. A thorough education of the whole country, and the government need to do something, even if it means announcing it on television, newspapers, radio houses”.
“However, I am not too keen of going after the man’s statement, he should just express his regret and apology, and let everybody know. Is very unfortunate. Now, law recognizes age in punishment . There are some people at time, who are too old to be prosecuted except it is a crime charge against humanity or world crime or that sort serious international crime, otherwise the judge will use his discretion to eliminate their charges because they are too old
Presidential election tribunal and hope of justice
Is there hope of justice at the tribunal, are we going to have as usual
Well, I don’t really know the minds of the judges at the tribunal, but I can tell you one thing from my little knowledge of election cases. It is very very difficult to unseat a president or a governor who has been declared winner in an election. It is extremely difficult. Body of prove is almost impossible. In the case of the president, the voting polling units , 176,974, under the current law, to really overthrow an INEC declaration, the person who is challenging the election results need to produce one witness per polling units or at least one witness per polling units of all polling units he is complaining about. So, for you to produce a witness of all the 176974 polling units is a tedious task for the petitioner. According to the law laid down by the supreme court since 2015, when Mr. Dakuku Peterside challenged Governor Wike, the immediate past governor of Rivers state, the court made it very difficult since that judgement, because, Peterside was trying to overturn INEC’s declaration of Wike’s victory. So, the details going on at the presidential election tribunal, I really don’t know. Peter Obi really need to prove his case because, time is not in his favour.
So, nobody should expect justice
I can’t say, please, don’t say it as if the judges are doing some pervade, they are operating according to the law. We hope, justice will prevail at the end but the principles laid down by the court makes it difficult to overturn presidential or governorship election as declared by INEC. I don’t know which evidence, Obi and Atiku have that will give them victory, but it is a hard task. If they succeed, it would just be incredible
NBA Reacts to Sen. Bulkachuwa’s confession
Meanwhile, The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned former senator, Adamu Bulkachuwa’s video confession, on how he influenced the decisions of his wife, Zainab Bulkachuwa, while she was the President of the Court of Appeal. In statement release on Wednesday by the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, condemned the confessionary statement of the senator during the 9th Assembly valedictory session, describing it as shocking, while seeking for investigation and probe into the allegations, even as he wants the National Judicial Council (NJC) to act:
“The NBA will at all times rise to the defence of the honour, integrity and independence of the judiciary.”
“It is in this regard that I call on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), to immediately invite Senator Ahmad Muhammad Bulkachuwa for interrogation and proceed to prosecute him accordingly,” Mr Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), wrote.
The NBA leader said he would follow up his call with “a letter to both the IGP and the ICPC Chairman in this respect.”
“We reiterate our commitment to the maintenance and defence of the integrity and independence of the Judiciary in Nigeria, within the bounds of the law, irrespective of the personalities involved,” the NBA president stated.
NBA’s reaction came on Wednesday, four days after Mr Bulkachuwa confessed during the valedictory session of the 9th session, which was held on Saturday.
The video clip, which emerged on the Internet on Monday, showed Mr Bulkachuwa, who failed to secure a re-election to the Senate, saying to his colleagues, “I look at faces in this chamber whom have come to me and sought for my help when my wife was the President of the Court of Appeal.”
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