Court nullifies impeachment of former Zamfara deputy governor

The Federal High Court in Abuja has nullified the impeachment of embattled former Zamfara State deputy governor, Mahdi Gusau.

Gusau was impeached by the Zamfara State House of Assembly in July last year.

Trouble started after the state’s former governor, Bello Matawalle, whose deputy Gusau was; three state senators, members of the House of Representatives, and the House of Assembly defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on June 29, 2021.

Following their defection, the PDP and Gusau, who did not defect with them, asked the court in a suit they filed to declare the decampees’ 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 were the chief judge, 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 candidate to hold the offices purportedly occupied by the defectors.

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

In a judgment on July 19, 2021, the Federal High Court restrained the House of Assembly from proceeding with its planned impeachment of Gusau as deputy governor.

Despite the court’s order, Gusau was impeached after an investigative panel report constituted by the state chief judge, Kulu Aliyu, accused him of committing several impeachable offences, including abuse of office, financial impropriety, and gross misconduct.

However, Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment delivered on Tuesday, June 21, declared all actions taken by the House of Assembly, former Governor Bello Matawalle, and the state’s chief judge on the impeachment null and void.

The court, which emphasised the need to protect its dignity, reprimanded those involved in the “unconstitutional” impeachment.

“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,” Justice Ekwo said.

You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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