Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, washed his hands off the suit seeking the proscription of Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist organisation.
The suit, which was instituted by a Makurdi-based legal practitioner, Matthew Nyiutsa, has suffered some setbacks since it was filed in May 11, 2018.
Hearing in the ex-parte motion had commenced in June, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole, before he was elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Before he left to the appellate court, however, Justice Kolawole was to deliver ruling on the ex-parte application on June 21, 2018.
The said motion ex-parte dated and filed at the registry of the court on May 11, 2018, was brought pursuant to 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.
Mindful of the urgent nature of the suit, the plaintiff had applied and obtained the leave of the Federal High Court for the matter to be heard by a vacation Judge.
However after listening to submissions made by the plaintiff, who appeared in person, Justice Dimgba said he was not comfortable to adjudicate on the case as a vacation Judge.
Accordingly, he ordered that the case file be returned to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Karafati for re- assignment to a regular court after the court’s vacation.
In addition, 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 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.
He is specifically 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 organizations, respectively.
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.
He has prayed 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.
The plaintiff who is demanding the sum 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 herdsmen.
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.
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.
Attached to the suit were copies of death report to Coroner and report by Medical practitioner, and burial programme for mass burial of the victims of the attacks by the herdsmen.