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Sokoto guber: Court strikes out suit seeking to remove Tambuwal

By Bridget Chiedu Onochie, Abuja
11 March 2017   |   1:34 am
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday struck out a case seeking to remove Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday struck out a case seeking to remove Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal.

The dismissed motion on notice dated January 30, this year, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/09/2017, followed an earlier suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/11/2015, and filed on January 27, 2015 by Senator Umaru Dahiru and Mr. Aliyu Abubakar Sanyinna.

Both were seeking Tambuwal’s removal from office on the basis that the governor was wrongly nominated by the All Progressives Congress (APC) as its governorship candidate in the April 2015 elections.

The Supreme Court had last year sent the case file, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/11/2015, back to the Federal High Court for a fresh trial on the ground that “there is life” in the case, in spite of the conduct of the governorship election that produced Tambuwal.

The apex court had then disagreed with Tambuwal in his claim that the case of the plaintiff challenging his nomination by APC had become “academical and hypothetical.”

Following the Supreme Court’s order for retrial, however, Dahiru, through his counsel, Ikoro N. Ikoro, filed a motion on notice, dated January 30, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/09/2017, seeking the variation of his pleadings in the motion on notice.

Specifically, the plaintiff was seeking the nullification of the return of Tambuwal as the governorship candidate of APC in the 2015 election in Sokoto State.

The application also sought the return of Dahiru, in place of Tambuwal, as governor of the state.

The first defendant (APC) and second defendant (Tambuwal) vehemently objected to the application.

But ruling on the application for amendment filed by the plaintiff, Justice Kolawole, aside dismissing the application, equally struck out the motion on notice.

The court agreed with APC and Tambuwal that granting the application for amendment of the reliefs would change the “nature and character” of the case file, which the Supreme Court had remitted to the court for retrial.

“The application of the plaintiffs is an ingenious attempt to have a second bite at the cherry. It is inconsistent with the reliefs sought in the motion on notice remitted from the Supreme Court,” the Judge ruled.

The court also noted that the plaintiff had in his motion on notice, filed on January 27, 2015, claimed that the December 4, 2014, primary election conducted by APC, which produced Tambuwal, was “hallowed ritual, a sham and in gross violation of Section 87 of the 2010 Electoral Act and the APC 2014 election guidelines.

Justice Kolawole said granting the amendment would amount to revalidation of a primary said to be flawed by the plaintiff and occasion injustice on the part of the first and the second defendants, because the motion on notice did not intend to cure any misnomer.

Justice Kolawole, in dismissing the application, stated that changing the case file is a fundamental issue of professional impropriety, which must be not be tolerated.

“The amendment is malafide, dishonest, an abuse of court process and intended to over-reach the Supreme Court and outsmart the second defendant.”

Consequently, the court ruled: “The application for amendment is hereby dismissed. The instant motion on notice, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/09/2017, is not the one remitted by the Supreme Court for retrial.

“The case file that migrated from the late Justice Evoh Chukwu of the Federal High Court to the Supreme Court was marked FHC/ABJ/CS/11/2015.

“In view of the fact that the application is dismissed, the case file has become empty and there is nothing to adjourn for or to be heard. Consequently, the case file is struck out.”

In opposition to the application of Umar, counsel to the APC, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) urged the court not to grant the application, describing it as “strange” and if granted, would change the character of the plaintiff’s suit, already decided by the Supreme Court.