The Federal High Court, Abuja, has fixed July 16 to hear a suit challenging the defection of Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The suit was filed on June 17, 2021 by two PDP members from Zamfara State – Sani Kaura Ahmed and Abubakar Muhammed – although, Mr Matawalle whose defection plan had been in the wind for only officially dumped his former party for the APC on June 29.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PDP, which contends that the governor cannot validly move to another party with the mandate given it in a Supreme Court judgment in 2019, is also seeking to be joined as a plaintiff in the suit.
Mr Matawalle’s deputy, Mahdi Aliyu Gusau, had refused to join his boss in cross carpeting to the APC.
Both Messrs Matawalle and Gusau were sued as co-defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/489/202 instituted by the PDP members.
The APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are the two other defendants.
The plaintiffs’ counsel, Kanu Agabi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, moved his clients’ ex-parte application for substituted service on the governor and his deputy, on Monday.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, adjourned the matter till July 16 for hearing of the suit after granting the plaintiffs’ request.
Based on the court’s order, the originating processes will be deemed to have been properly served on them by being pasted at the Zamfara State Liaison Office in Abuja.
The plaintiffs argued in their suit that the governor and his deputy are ineligible to continue to hold the positions on account of defection.
They contend that, in view of an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court, to the effect that the APC had no candidates in the 2019 governorship election in Zamfara State for not conducting valid primaries, it would be unlawful for Mr Matawalle and his deputy to retain their offices while defecting from the PDP to the APC, thereby transferring PDP’s victory to the APC.
They want the court to, among others, declare that Messrs Matawalle and Gusua must resign from their offices before their defection to INEC to conduct fresh election, within three months, for the PDP to replace them.(NAN)