The Nation (Nigeria)

Court stops move to oust Zamfara deputy governor

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AFEDERAL High Court in Abuja has restrained Zamfara State House of Assembly Speaker and two others from proceeding with their alleged plan to impeach Deputy Governor Mahadi Aliyu Mohammed.

Also restrained are the governor, the Chief Judge (CJ) and their agents.

Justice Obiora Egwuatu gave the restrainin­g order yesterday after listening to Ogwu James Onoja (SAN), who moved a motion ex parte to that effect on behalf of the plaintiff in a suit filed in the name of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Listed as defendants in the suit are: the Independen­t National Electoral Commission (INEC), All Progressiv­es Congress (APC), the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representa­tives, Zamfara State House of Assembly Speaker, Zamfara State governor and the state's

From Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

Chief Judge.

Onoja told the court that the House of Assembly and some persons were planning to impeach the deputy governor for refusing to defect to the APC.

The lawyer said it was of utmost urgency that the court grants an interim restrainin­g order against the fifth to seventh defendants: the Speaker, the governor and the CJ.

He argued that if the impeachmen­t was carried out, as being planned, no sufficient monetary compensati­on could assuage the impact, because it relates to a constituti­onally recognised position with a stipulated tenure.

Onoja said his client also filed a motion for interlocut­ory injunction­s, along with the substantiv­e suit, which challenges the propriety of the defection by Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle and others from the PDP to the APC.

In a ruling, Justice Egwuatu said he was convinced it was a matter of extreme urgency that required the court's interventi­on to preserve the res (subject of dispute).

The judge ordered the parties to maintain status quo ante bellum (the situation as it was before the dispute) pending the hearing of a motion filed by the plaintiff.

He asked Onoja if there was no similarity between the instant suit and another one before Justice Inyang Ekwo, also of the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Onoja said he was not aware of the other suit before Justice Ekwo.

Justice Egwuatu adjourned till July 23 with a promise to return the case file for it to be reassigned to Justice Ekwo to have him hear both cases.

He said it was untidy and could result in conflictin­g decisions, if different judges were made to hear different cases on the same issue.

The suit before Justice Ekwo was filed by two members of the PDP in Zamfara State - Alhaji Sani Kaura Ahmed and Abubakar Muhammed.

The suit is equally challengin­g the legality of Matawalle's and others' defection from the PDP to the APC.

On July 16, Justice Ekwo granted the requests by the plaintiffs' lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), for the inclusion of the PDP as a plaintiff in the suit and for the exclusion of the deputy governor, earlier sued as a defendant, as a party in the case.

He ordered the plaintiffs to amend their originatin­g processes to reflect the new parties, effect fresh service and report back on September 29.

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