Confession That Exposes Rot in Judiciary

Confession That Exposes Rot in Judiciary

The confession by a former Senator, who represented Bauchi North, Adamu Bulkachuwa, at the valedictory session of the ninth Senate penultimate Saturday, was a big shame to the Nigerian judiciary as it has further exposed the rot in the system and the extent to which the course of justice is being perverted, Ejiofor Alike and  Wale Igbintade report

A former senator who represented Bauchi North senatorial district in the Senate, Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa, threw a bombshell at the Senate penultimate week, revealing how he used his wife to help his colleagues in the Senate.

Bulkachuwa confessed to have influenced the decisions of his wife, Zainab, while she was serving as a judge and President of the Court of Appeal to deliver favourable judgments for himself, his colleagues and other politicians.

Speaking during the Senate valedictory session, the former senator shocked his colleagues when he admitted that he encroached on his wife’s independence to apparently manipulate justice in favour of some senators.

Senator Bulkachuwa, 83, the spouse of Justice Bulkachuwa was elected senator during the 2019 general election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Bulkachuwa retired from the Bench after clocking the statutory retirement age of 70 years for justices of the Appeal Court in 2020. She presided over many election cases.

Speaking at the session, Bulkachuwa looked around at the faces of his colleagues and said: “I know – 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 I am sure…”

It was at this point that the former Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan quickly interjected and said, “Distinguished Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa, I think I will advise that you just round off and sit down.” 

Some senators who were obviously embarrassed also shouted at him and challenged him to mention names but he declined, insisting that, “we know ourselves.”

An apparently apprehensive Lawan also interrupted him again, saying, “but this kind of insinuation will mean that there was favour; there was this and the rest of it; I don’t think it is a good idea.”

But Bulkachuwa, who was determined to make his point politely refused to give up.

Responding to Lawan’s comments, he said, “well, Mr. Chairman, I must say that okay, to round off, since that is what you want me to do, I will do that 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.”

At this point, Lawan interrupted him for the third time, saying, “Distinguished, please I don’t think this is a good idea going this direction; it is not a good idea, please”.

Lawan’s interventions and the shouts of disapproval by other senators forced Bulkachuwa to end his speech abruptly, saying, “well, Mr. President, I will say ‘thank you’ and I will sit down.”

Before her retirement, many Nigerians were not satisfied with his wife’s handling of some cases.

For instance, in 2019, the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had filed an application asking Justice Bulkachuwa to recuse herself from the presidential election tribunal hearing their petition, against the election of President Muhammadu Buhari. One of the grounds for the application was that Justice Bulkachuwa is the wife of Senator Bulkachuwa, a prominent card-carrying member of the APC and then senator-elect for Bauchi North senatorial district which was a political party involved in the suit.

The video of Senator Bulkachuwa’s confession has since gone viral on social media, with many Nigerians lampooning the former lawmaker and his wife for desecrating the judiciary. They also feel that the confession has revealed how deeply rotten, corrupt, unfair and insincere the judiciary in the country has become.

For some time now, observers believe that the judiciary, once revered, is now in the doldrums. People no longer have confidence in the institution.

There are other allegations that judges and justices sitting on some cases are or were induced or put under undue pressures “from above” to pervert the course of justice.

Senator Bulkachuwa’s rare confession serves as a validation of the suspicion of bias the opposition PDP had against Justice Bulkachuwa after she appointed herself to head the five-member panel of the Presidential Election Petition Court in 2019.

To show how bad things are in the judiciary, lawyers and retired judges have all joined in criticising the rot in the sector.

One of the most recent criticisms came from a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who expressed his waning confidence in the Nigerian judiciary, blaming his decision on the recent judgments coming out of the courts.

The senior lawyer who spoke as a guest during a television programme monitored by THISDAY, recalled the good days when one could easily predict the outcome of a case by analysing available facts with the law.

He described the Supreme Court’s decision on the former Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan as the silliest judgment.

 Agbakoba also cited the apex court’s judgment on Imo State, where according to him, “everything was turned upside down.”

In the past, renowned lawyer, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) had lamented how corruption had dented the image of the judiciary, noting that it was regrettable that Nigerians were no longer reposing confidence in the judiciary despite the acronym that it is the last hope of the common man. He posited that experience in the past had shown that “our bitter experience is that election petitions have inflicted severe injuries and damage on both the electorate, the judiciary (which has been brutalised and called all sorts of names) as well as the political class.”

According to Babalola, “time was when a lawyer could predict the likely outcome of a case because of the facts, the law and the brilliance of the lawyers that handled the case. Today, things have changed and nobody can be sure.”

Before his demise on November 16, 2012, the renowned retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Kayode Eso, had once taken a long view of Nigeria’s judiciary and concluded that the institution was full of judges and justices who ought not to have been there in the first place. He lamented the all-important arm of government stinks of corruption.

Meanwhile, Agbakoba has described the former senator’s confession as a “monumental disgrace”. In a statement, he called on security authorities to take up the matter immediately.

Agbakoba who revealed that he represented Usman Tuggar in relation to disputed elections between him and Senator Bulkachuwa for Bauchi North senatorial but lost the case up to the Supreme Court, added that the senator’s statement was a blight on his confidence in the judiciary.

“Senator Bulkachuwa’s statement at the valedictory of the ninth Senate is a monumental disgrace for our institutions. This man deserves to be taken up immediately by the authorities. It is a blight on my confidence in our systems. I represented Usman Tuggar in relation to the disputed elections between him and Senator Bulkachuwa for Bauchi North senatorial. We lost in three courts. Senator Bulkachuwa seems to suggest why.” 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called on the Inspector General of Police (IG) and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to immediately invite Senator Bulkachuwa for interrogation and proceed to prosecute him accordingly over his comments.

In a statement issued, NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau (SAN), said the statements by the senator were clearly admissions that he did attempt to and/or actually perverted the course of justice/interfered with due administration of justice, which makes him liable to be investigated and prosecuted even on his admission.

Another lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo, said Bulkachuwa’s confession “portends danger to the dignity of the judiciary.”

 Omirhobo, a human rights lawyer, said the senator’s remarks showed the “phoney judgments” that emanated from Justice Bulkachuwa and the appellate while she served as its president.

A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, while reacting to Bulkachuwa’s statement, alleged that Justice Bulkachuwa was “neither honourable nor interested in justice.”

Odinkalu opined that Justice Bulkachuwa’s subversion of justice, as revealed by her husband, has “tarnished” the image of serving judges whom he said would be seen as “trading judicial decisions in their bedrooms.”

He urged serving judges to speak up and insist on an independent inquiry into Senator Bulkachuwa’s revelation.

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