By Vivian Okejeme
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, hands off suit seeking the proscription of Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist organisation.
He orders case file retuned to the Chief Judge of the FHC, Justice Abdul Karafati, for re-assignment.
The Plaintiff, Matthew Nyiutsa, an Abuja based legal practitioner, premised the motion exparte on order 34 Rule (2) and (3) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules, 2009 and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court, was assigned to him for adjudication.
He obtained the leave of the Court to hear the matter by a vacation Judge, due to the urgent nature of the suit.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/18, the Plaintiff is seeking the prohibition of all activities of Fulani herdsmen in Benue State that have resulted in the deliberate and intentional killings, masacre, wanton destruction of both private and public properties including residential and commercial houses, schools, hospitals/ clinic, markets, water boreholes/reservoirs, invasion of ancestral lands of the inhabitants as acts of terrorism under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.
In the charge sheet, the plaintiff is seeking the leave of court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General of the Federation to move a court of competent jurisdiction to proscribe herdsmen operating in Benue State and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as terrorists and terrorist organisations respectively.
Further in his claims, the lawyer, who resides in Guma Local government Area of the state, said he is one of the numerous victims of continuing herdsmen attacks on communities in Benue State.
Therefore, he wants the court to declare that the series of armed attacks particularly from January 1, 2018 to May, 2018, on inhabitants of communities in Guma, Logo, Makurdi, Gwer-East, Buruku, Tarka, Katsina-Ala and Ukum Local government Areas of Benue State by herdsmen by in Mbadwen, Uvir, Mbabai, Nyier, Mbayer/Yandev and Saghev Council wards of Guma Local government and some parts of Gwer- West Local government Areas amount to acts of terrorism as defined under section 1(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.
He further prayed the court for a declaration that the threat issued by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, through Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and Saleh Al- Hassan as National President and Secretary respectively during a press conference at Kaduna sometime in June, 2017, to the effect of mobilising their members and other herdsmen to cause anarchy in Benue state amount to support for act of terrorism under section 5 of the Terrorism (prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.
The plaintiff who is demanding the sum of N50 million as exemplary damages against the respondents.
Continuing, he asked the court to declare that the Attorney General of the Federation and President Buhari (1st and 2nd respondents) have mandatory statutory duties and obligations under section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, to act in the circumstances of the prevailing acts of terrorism perpetuated by the herdsmen.
According to him, in 2014, nine of his family members were killed by armed herdsmen with other 24 family members killed by herdsmen on January 1, 2018 at Tom-atar.
When the matter came up yesterday, Justice Dimgba after listening to submissions of the plaintiff, who defended himself, said he was not comfortable to preside over the case as a vacation Judge.
Consequently, he ordered that the case file be returned to Justice Abdul Karafati for re- assignment to a regular court after the court’s vacation.