Politics

Court fixes Jan 18 for suit seeking removal of Zamfara gov, lawmakers 

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed January 18, 2022, to hear the suit, seeking the removal of Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara and other lawmakers who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo fixed the date after counsel to the parties had joined issues in the suit.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PDP had, on October 15, filed a motion, joining the three Zamfara senators and 27 other lawmakers who defected from the party to APC in a suit against Governor Matawalle.

The party, through its counsel, James Onoja, SAN, filed the motion for joinder marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/650/2021 dated and filed September 30.

The PDP specifically is asking the court to sack Matawalle, the three senators, six House of Representatives members and all the lawmakers in the state’s house of assembly that dumped the party for APC.

NAN reports that the PDP had earlier sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Governor of Zamfara and Chief Judge of Zamfara as 1st to 7th defendants respectively.

When the matter was called, Onoja informed that the matter was adjourned for his motion for joinder to be heard.He said all the parties had been served.

However, counsel to the 5th, 6th and 7th defendants (Speaker of House of Reps., the governor and chief judge of Zamfara), Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, though acknowledged that he was served by the plaintiff, he hinted that he had filed a preliminary objection, challenging the motion for joinder.

The judge, then, adjourned the matter until Jan. 18 for the motions to be heard.NAN reports that  Matawalle, alongside the three senators, six House of Representatives members and all the 24 members of the Zamfara House of Assembly had, on June 29, defected to the ruling party.

While the governor defected to APC, the Deputy Governor, Mahdi Gusau, did not.

Against this development, the PDP had sought the court order, joining Matawalle as 8th defendant since only his office was sued in the earlier application.

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The party, which urged the court to joining his deputy, Gusau, as 2nd plaintiff in the suit, also prayed the court to join the senators, the House members and the 24 lawmakers in the state as 7th to 38th defendants.

The PDP, in an originating summons dated and filed on July 8, had sought the court interpretation of Sections 1(2), 188, 287, 221, 177(c), 106(d) and 65(2)(b), among other provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended for a determination of four principal questions as set out in the application.

It aksed the court to determine whether Matawalle and all the lawmakers are eligible to continue to occupy the various political offices into which they were elected on the platform of the plaintiff.

“That part of the complaint of the plaintiff in the originating summons also relates to the attempts of the 5th to 7th defendants to initiate and commence impeachment proceedings against the 2nd party (Gusau) sought to be joined, who is a member of the plaintiff political party and was elected to the office of deputy governor of Zamfara State on the platform of the plaintiff.

“That the parties sought to be joined were mentioned in the originating summons by name and their actions and inactions form part of the material facts that gave rise to the cause of action and subject matter of the originating summons and are thus persons whose interests may be affected by the outcome of this case,” among others.

The party said the application was brought in the interest of justice to join the said persons as co-plaintiff and defendants to enable the court to effectively and effectually consider and resolve all the issues in controversy in the case once and for all and avoid a multiplicity of actions over the same subject matter.

It said the move was to ensure that “the ends of justice are not defeated by mere technical objections as to joinder of parties.”

NAN reports that Matawalle emerged as the governor of the state, following a judgment of the Supreme Court on March 24, 2019, which nullified the APC primaries in the state.

The apex court ruling affected Mukhtar Idris, the governorship candidate of the APC, who was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the election and all other candidates of the APC in the general elections.

(NAN)

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