Court restores ex-Zamfara Deputy Governor, Mahdi Gusau

Court restores ex-Zamfara Deputy Governor, Mahdi Gusau

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday gave an order restoring Mahdi Gusau as the deputy governor of Zamfara following his impeachment by the state’s House of Assembly on February 23, 2022, despite a subsisting court order.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, also set aside all the steps and actions taken by the House of Assembly, former Governor Bello Matawalle, and the state’s chief judge in the purported impeachment of Mr Gusau during the pendency of the suit in court.

Mr Ekwo, who held that the act of the then assembly’s speaker, ex-governor, chief judge, and others was an aberration and could not be allowed to stand, described it as “null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

“I agree with the learned silk for the plaintiff/applicant that the court must protect its dignity by reprimanding the fifth, sixth, and seventh defendants (speaker, governor, and chief judge) and undoing the steps, acts, or proceedings taken in the impeachment while this suit was pending,” he said.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the judge also held that contrary to the argument of the counsel to the fifth to 38th defendants, he did not see in any of the judicial authorities cited and relied upon by the lawyer that authorises any litigant to take extra-judicial action when a case was pending in court.

Mr Matawalle, the three state senators, members of the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly had all defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on June 29, 2021.

Following their defection, the PDP and Mr Gusau, the then deputy governor, who did not cross carpet along with them, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/650/2021, asked the court to declare their seats vacant, having abandoned the party through which they got into the positions of power.

The plaintiffs had sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), APC, the president of the Senate, the House of Representatives speaker, and the House of Assembly speaker as the first to fifth defendants, respectively.

Also joined in the suit are the chief judge, Mr Matawalle, the three senators, House of Representatives members, and all members of the state’s House of Assembly as sixth to 38th defendants, respectively.

They sought an order of mandatory injunction compelling INEC to accept the list of the PDP candidates issued to hold and occupy the office of governor, the state, and federal lawmakers.

They also sought an order for INEC to issue certificates of return to each of the said candidates to hold the said offices purportedly occupied by members of the APC “in defiance of the decision of the Supreme Court in SC. 377/2019: APC v. Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa and others for the unspent electoral term of office of May 29, 2019, to May 28, 2013.”

They also sought an order compelling the defendants to swear in Mr Gusau as governor on PDP’s platform to complete the tenure of office, among others.

The FHC had, on July 19, 2021, restrained the House of Assembly from proceeding with its planned impeachment of Mr Gusau as deputy governor.

Despite the court’s order, Mr Gusau was impeached by the House of Assembly after receiving the investigative panel report constituted by the chief judge, Kulu Aliyu.

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