Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The elevation of Justice Gabriel Kolawole, formerly of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, to the Bench of the Court of Appeal, has affected the hearing of 25 cases listed for adjudication by his court in the last two days.
Following his appointment which was based on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Justice Kolawole who was to sit on those cases did not sit, on Thursday.
Although the judge sat, on Wednesday, but he hurriedly adjourned cases on the list as soon as the news of his appointment to the Court of Appeal got to him.
Among the affected cases were high profile political, criminal and civil cases including a ruling in the suit seeking the proscription of Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist organisation.
Justice Kolawole had fixed the ruling after listening to an ex-parte application moved by a Makurdi-based legal practitioner, Matthew Nyiutsa, seeking the leave of court to compel President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) to move a court of competent jurisdiction to proscribe Fulani herdsmen operating in Benue State and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as terrorist and terrorist organizations, respectively.
Although the ruling was slated for Thursday, Justice Kolawole, who will be sworn-in as Justice of the Court of Appeal, on Friday, could not sit.
Daily Sun was, however, told that the applicant, Matthew Nyiutsa, had written to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarti, for the transfer of the case to a Vacation Judge, in view of the urgency of the issues raised in the suit.
In a copy of the letter cited by our correspondent dated June 21, the lawyer gave reasons for the transfer of the case to include, “The stage of this matter for judicial review for an order of mandamus is an ex-parte application which was filed on May 11, 2018.
The letter further stated; “This matter primarily concerns the peace, security and safety of lives and property of the people of Benue state in the face of the continued killings and wanton destruction of properties by herdsmen in Benue State, thus underscoring the urgency and emergency nature of this proceedings.”
Other cases that suffered the setbacks included the criminal case the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission (NBC); Emeka Mba: Sen. Ayo Arise Vs national Human Rights Commission; Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege Vs Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Chief A.C. Nwodo Vs Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] and FRN Vs Augustine Alugwu among others.
Except the trial of Emeka Mba which had been adjourned to July 5, 2018, all cases have been shifted to the next legal year.
Justice Kolawole is one of the 12 new Justices appointment for the Court of Appeal by President Muhamadu Buhari.
Others are Justice P. A. Mahmud; Justice F. O. Ojo; Justice I. A. Andenyangsto; Justice Gabriel Kolawole (formerly of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court); Justice B. B. Aliyu; Justice Ebiowei Tobi and Justice J. G. Abundaga.
The rest are Justice A. S. Umar; Justice Abubakar. M. Talba; Justice A. M. Bayero; Justice A. M. Lamido and Justice M. B. Idris.
While moving the motion ex-parte in the case against the herdsmen, Nyiutsa who appeared in person told the court that he is a victim of continuing Fulani herdsmen attacks on communities in Benue State, which resulted in deaths of over 200 persons, destruction of both private and public properties like residential houses, hospitals/clinics, churches. Schools, bridges, markets worth billions of naira, grievous bodily injuries to several hundreds of thousands of persons from their ancestral homes, and take-over and occupation of ancestral houses of displaced persons by Fulani herdsmen in Mbadwen, Uvir, Mbabai, Nyier, Mbayer/Yandev and Saghev Council wards of Guma Local government and some parts of Gwer- West Local government Areas of the State.
He submitted 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 Fulani herdsmen using sophisticated weapons like AK- 47 automatic riffles amounted to acts of terrorism as defined under section 1(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.
Nyiutsa further submitted that his right to ventilate his predicament under section 6  [b] of the 1999 constitution, must be preserved and protected by the court.
He referred the court to the case of Governor of Ekiti State V Fakiyesi  to convince the court as to his locus standi to institute the case.
Besides, the lawyer submitted that where an applicant show some sincere concern on some constitutional issues as well as the nature of the breach of duty, the court can hear him.
In the instant case, the plaintiff said the duty which the defendants are in breached is a fundamental duty which relates to the welfare and security of the citizens of the country and to which the defendants have sworn to uphold and protect.
He urged the court to grant the application so that it can be heard on the merit.
After listening to his submissions, Justice Kolawole reserved ruling to June 21.
The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/18 is seeking the prohibition of all activities of Fulani herdsmen in Benue State that has resulted in the deliberate and intentional killings, mascare, 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.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole fixed the date after the exparte motion dated and filed at the registry of the court on May 11, 2018, brought pursuant to order 34 Rule (2) and (3) of the Federal High Court (civil procedure) rules, 2009\n and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court, was assigned to him for adjudication.
The lawyer, who resides in Guma Local government Area of the state, said he is one of the numerous victims
The plaintiff who is demanding the aim of N50 million as exemplary damages against the respondents further prayed 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 Fulani herdsmen by causing an application to lie before a court of competent jurisdiction for, inter alia, an order proscribing the Fulani herdsmen and Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore having been reasonably suspected of carrying out the said criminal activities and acts of terrorism as terrorists and terrorists group respectively.
He further prayed the court for a declaration that the threat issued by Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, through Alhaji Abdullahi Bello Bodejo and Engr. 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 Fulani 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 and therefore renders the said organisation liable to being held as a terrorist organisation.
The plaintiff deposed that he has suffered substantial injury from Fulani herdsmen attacks since 2014 to date.
According to him, in 2014, nine of his family members were killed by armed Fulani\n herdsmen including another 24 of his family members who were killed by Fulani herdsmen on January 1, 2018 at Tom-atar.
Attached to the suit were copies of death report to Coroner and report by Medical practitioner, and burial programme for mass burial of the deceased victims of the attacks by Fulani herdsmen.