A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an order restoring Mr. Mahdi Gusau as the deputy governor of Zamfara, following his impeachment by the state’s House of Assembly on February 23, 2022, despite the existence of a court order. Justice Inyang Ekwo delivered the judgment on Wednesday, setting aside all the actions taken by the House of Assembly, former Governor Bello Matawalle, and the state’s chief judge in the purported impeachment of Gusau while the case was pending in court.
Justice Ekwo described the actions of the speaker, governor, and chief judge as null and void and of no effect. He emphasized that once parties have brought their dispute to the court for determination, resorting to self-help is not permissible. The judge cited a previous case that supported the notion that parties cannot take extra-judicial action when a case is pending.
The impeachment occurred after Matawalle and several other officials defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) on June 29, 2021. In response, the PDP and Gusau, who did not defect, filed a suit seeking the declaration of the defectors’ seats as vacant. They also requested an order for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept the PDP candidates’ list and issue certificates of return to them.
The Federal High Court had previously restrained the House of Assembly from impeaching Gusau, but the impeachment still took place. The plaintiffs then filed a motion seeking to restore the status quo of Gusau’s position as of July 8, 2021, and set aside all the steps taken in the impeachment process.
The lawsuit was initially filed on July 8, 2021, and the plaintiffs later amended the originating summons.