A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has annulled the impeachment of a former deputy governor of Zamfara State, Mahadi Aliyu Gusau.
Gusua was impeached by the state’s House of Assembly on February 23, 2022, despite a subsisting court order.
In his judgement, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled aside all measures and activities made by the House of Assembly, former Governor Bello Matawalle, and the state’s top judge in the alleged impeachment of Mr Gusau while the case was pending in court.
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.
The judge further held that, contrary to the counsel for the fifth to 38th defendants’ position, he did not find any judicial authority referenced and relied on by the lawyer that authorised any litigant to conduct extra-judicial action while a matter was pending in court.
On June 29, 2021, Mr Matawalle, three state senators, members of the House of Representatives, and members of the House of Assembly all defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress.
Following their defection, the PDP and Gusau, the then-deputy governor who did not cross the carpet with them, sued the court in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/650/2021 to declare their seats empty, having abandoned the party through which they rose to power.
As the first to fifth defendants, the plaintiffs sued the Independent National Electoral Commission , APC, the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the speaker of the House of Assembly.
Following their defection, the PDP and Mr Gusau, the then deputy governor, who did not cross the carpet with them, requested the court to declare their seats empty since they had left the party through which they had attained their positions of authority. The complaint was filed under the number FHC/ABJ/CS/650/2021.
As the first through fifth defendants, the plaintiffs had sued INEC, APC, the president of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and the speaker of the House of Assembly.
The chief judge, Matawalle, the three senators, members of the House of Representatives, and every member of the state’s House of Assembly have also joined the lawsuit as defendants six through eighty-eight, respectively.
They requested a mandatory injunction ordering INEC to accept the PDP candidates listed for the positions of governor, state legislator, and federal legislator.
Additionally, they requested that INEC issue certificates of return to each of the candidates to fill the positions that were allegedly held by APC members “in defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision in APC v. Senator Kabiru Garba Marafa and Others, SC. 377/2019 for the unexpired term of office from May 29, 2019, to May 28, 2013.”
Among other things, they requested a court order ordering the defendants to appoint Gusau governor under the PDP’s platform.
On July 19, 2021, the FHC intervened to prevent the House of Assembly from carrying out its intended impeachment of Gusau as deputy governor.
Despite the court’s directive, Gusau was impeached by the House of Assembly when it received the findings of the panel of investigators Kulu Aliyu had assembled.