On Friday, Justice Obiora Egwatu of the Federal High Court in Abuja stepped down from the case trying to stop the impeachment of Alhaji Mahadi Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State.
Following knowledge that a similar suit on the same subject matter was already pending before another judge of the court in Abuja division, the judge dropped out of the case.
When the issue arose, Justice Egwatu informed the case’s senior lawyers, led by James Ogu Onoja, that he would not proceed with the hearing as scheduled.
The court has halted the impeachment process against Zamfara’s Deputy Governor, Gusau, for refusing to defect.
He based his conclusion on the need to avoid a situation in which the court was forced to render contradictory rulings on the same issue.
He then ordered that the case be assigned to Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo, who is currently hearing a similar case.
To facilitate a timely hearing of the complaint, Justice Egwuatu further ordered that all procedures filed in the case before him be immediately moved to Justice Ekwo’s court.
On July 19, the judge barred members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly from taking any further steps in the impeachment process against the deputy governor for refusing to decamp with Governor Bello Mataealle from the People Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The order was given by Justice Egwatu in response to a PDP ex-parte application.
After hearing arguments from a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief James Onoja Ogwu, the judge concluded that the applicant’s fear of the impeachment effort was severe and legitimate, and that the defendants should be prevented from carrying out the purported action.
The judge further barred the Chief Judge of Zamfara State from forming any panel to investigate the Deputy Governor until the outcome of a move on notice filed by the Peoples Democratic Party.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; the All Progressive Congress, APC; the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker of the Zamfara House of Assembly, and Governor Bello Matawalle are among the other defendants in the case.