By Chimezie Godfrey
#TrackNigeria: The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Women in Nigeria (WIN) have condemned the ongoing calls for the withdrawal of President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa from the Presidential Petitions Tribunal.
The group raised the concern in a press statement jointly signed by the Executive Chairman of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, and Ms. Chioma Kanu from Women In Nigeria, (WIN) and made available to Newsdiaryonline Wednesday.
The statement described the calls as unfair and undemocratic agitations to undermine the nation’s emerging effort at attaining inclusive, participatory and equal opportunity in both public and private spheres.
The group also stated that the ongoing agitation by some people to make her withdraw was baseless and unjustified ground, without constitutional backing.
CISLAC and WIN opined that they had “worked assiduously to advocate for gender equity and inclusiveness in appointive and elective positions with the view of achieving full implementation of the 35% Affirmative Action for Women by governments at all levels.”
They added that their advocacy 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 (CEDAW) which was also ratified by Nigeria.
“We are seriously concerned about the continued marginalization, unchecked discrimination and abuse of women despite 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.
”This includes their 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,” the statement read.
The group pointed out that according to Section 239 (1) (a), the Court of Appeal had the original jurisdiction to hear and determine questions as to whether any person had been validly elected to the office of the President or Vice President.
They recalled 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.
They added that 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,” they reiterated.