The Presidency has warned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to stop dragging the executive into what was described as a “media smear campaign” against the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
This was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Saturday.
Reacting to recent reports claiming that the Department of State Services (DSS) has indicted Bulkachuwa of corruption, were the latest of the PDP’s sponsored campaign.
According to Shehu, this report was aimed at causing disaffection between the Executive and the Judiciary which had operated smoothly under the present dispensation.
Shehu said, “While the PDP and its candidates are free to exercise their right to challenge the results of the 2019 presidential election, it is unacceptable to drag the name of the President or other organs of the executive branch into the campaign of character assassination against the President of the Court of Appeal.
“The DSS doesn’t conduct its duties in the manner so described and you can’t use a fake security report to drag the presidency into a smear campaign against the President of the Court of Appeal.
“Attacking judges because the outcomes of cases don’t favour you and keeping quiet when the verdict is in your favour smack of insincerity, double standard, and mischief.
“Intimidating and impugning the character of judges in order to force them to bow to blackmail is against the spirit of an independent judiciary,’’ he said.
Shehu further observed that the PDP praised the verdict of the Osun gubernatorial election tribunal because it favoured them, but they were singing a different tune because they lost the appeal.
He said: “We cannot keep changing the definition of an independent judiciary to suit our political convenience and bias without ultimately creating chaos in the system.
“If the PDP continues to blackmail and smear judges with fake news stories, we will ultimately find ourselves dealing with a situation where judges may be afraid to handle cases, thereby creating delays in the dispensation of justice.’’
The presidential aide maintained that if the presidency had any influence on election petition tribunals, APC candidates would not have lost a single case before the courts.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP had written the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the Presidential Election Tribunal sitting over the petition filed by its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
According to the party, it was worried about Justice Bulkachuwa being the chairman of the panel to hear Atiku’s petition because her husband is an All Progressives Congress (APC) Senator.
Less than 24 hours later, a secret memo submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by the DSS emerged.
The memo was said to have indicted Justice Bulkachuwa of being “incurably corrupt”. She was accused of engaging in bribery and taking kickbacks from judges she assigned to lucrative and juicy cases.