COURT INTERVENES IN THE REMOVAL OF DISTRICT HEADS IN SOKOTO STATE: GRANTS ORDERS TO MAINTAIN STATUS QUO ANTE BELLUM
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COURT INTERVENES IN THE REMOVAL OF DISTRICT HEADS IN SOKOTO STATE: GRANTS ORDERS TO MAINTAIN STATUS QUO ANTE BELLUM

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27th June, 2024.

Posted by: Prince Ahmed Hassan (TOHA)

BY: PROF. MIKE A. A. OZEKHOME, SAN, CON , OFR, FCIArb, LL.M, Ph.D, LL.D, D.Litt, D.SC, DA, DHL

INTRODUCTION

A High Court sitting in Sokoto and presided over by the Honourable Justice Kabiru I. Ahmed, on the 13th of June, 2024, granted in favour of the Plaintiffs/Applicants (District Heads ), exparte applications for the maintenance of status quo ante bellum in Suit Nos: SS/M.290/2024 and SS/M.293/2024 , between Alhaji Buhari Dahiru Tambuwal and Alhaji Abubakar Kassim (the Plaintiffs/Applicants) V. the Governor of Sokoto State, Attorney General of Sokoto State and the Sokoto Sultanate Council (the Defendants/Respondents).

The maintenance of status quo ante bellum order further directed, amongst others, a stay of all actions and or further actions in connection with all matters dealing with and or pertaining to the removal and or dethronement of District Heads in Sokoto State (particularly the 1st and 2nd Plaintiffs/Applicants), as the District Heads of Tambuwal in Tambuwal LGA of Sokoto State and the District Head of Kebbe in Kebbe LGA of Sokoto State, respectively.The injunctive relief is to operate against the Governor of Sokoto State, the Attorney General of Sokoto State and the Sokoto Sultanate Council pending the hearing and determination of the motion for interlocutory injunction filed before the same court and fixed for 23rd of July, 2024,for hearing.

The court went through the affidavit evidence and the written addresses of counsel attached to the motions and stated in its ruling that it found merits in the applications and therefore granted the orders. One Alhaji Buhari Dahiru Tambuwal and Alhaji Abubakar Kassim deposed to the affidavits attached to their respective motions. Alhaji Buhari Dahiru Tambuwal stated that he had learnt through the media that a Committee was set up  to investigate the appointment of District Heads made by the erstwhile Governor of Sokoto State, including his and he subsequently heard on April 23, 2024, that he had been removed as the District Head of Tambuwal without any formal communication or opportunity to be heard to present his case.

He deposed further that on April 29, 2024, based on the purported Committee’s recommendations, he received his termination letter from the Sokoto Sultanate Council, but was not given any fair hearing before this termination, violating his right to due process. The termination, according to him appeared punitive, capricious, and a gross abuse of power, especially since some other District Heads appointed with him were not so removed.

He further deposed that due to the actions of the Defendants/Respondents, he has faced significant prejudice, anguish, embarrassment, financial loss, and had not received his monthly salary of N81,000 since his removal; and that despite these breaches, the Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Ahmad Aliyu Sokoto, went ahead and set up another Committee to draft a White Paper, further indicating a malicious intent.

On the part of Alhaji Abubakar Kassim, the purported allegations he was confronted with parole by the Committee set up by the Governor of Sokoto State and which he responded to parole was done without having the opportunity to see his purported accusers nor allowed to ask them questions. Similarly, the allegations which formed the basis of the  Committee’s  recommendations to the Governor of Sokoto State were allegations that he was never confronted with. The Committee’s recommendations  ventured into criminal allegations and or findings for which he was neither confronted  nor given the opportunity to be heard on these novel allegations.

The court considered the Applicants’ argument that the Respondents’ attempt to appoint a new District Head during the ongoing legal process, would cause irreparable harm if not restrained and therefore granted the interim injunction to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending the hearing of the substantive application for interlocutory injunction. The Hon. Justice K. I. Ahmad, in his ruling agreed with the written address of Counsel to the Plaintiffs/Applicants, Prof Mike Ozekhome, SAN and Prof Ibrahim Abdullahi, SAN,( who argued the application) and granted the order of maintenance of status quo ante bellum and stay of all actions and or further actions in connection with all matters dealing with and or appertaining to the removal and all dethronement of District Heads in Sokoto State..”.

The District Heads positively affected by the court’s interim order of maintenance of status quo ante bellum (injunction ) are:

1. Alhaji Buhari Dahiru Tambuwal – District Head of Tambuwal in Tambuwal Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

2. Alhaji Buhari Muhammad Abdulrahman – District Head of Illela in Illela Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

3. Alhaji Nasiru Shehu Umar – District Head of Dogondaji  in Tambuwal Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

4. Alhaji Aliyu Barade  – District Head of Wamakko in Wamakko Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

5. Alhaji Atiku Bello Ayama – District Head of Gongono in Tangaza Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

6. Alhaji Sule Ajiya Kalambaina – District Head of Kalambaina in Wamakko Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

7. Alhaji Abubakar Kassim – District Head of Kebbe in Kebbe Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

8. Alhaji Ibrahim Bello Dansarki – District Head of Tangaza in Tangaza Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

9. Hon. Kabiru Marafa Acida- District Head of Alkammu in Wurno Local Govt Area of Sokoto State and;

10. Alhaji Usman Abdullahi  – District Head of Talluwa in Bodinga Local Govt Area of Sokoto State.

By this development, the Honorable Court has mandated the Defendants/Respondents and their representatives, agents, servants and or privies (by whatever name called) to maintain  status quo ante bellum and halt any actions related to the removal or dethronement of District Heads in Sokoto State. These orders are effective pending the hearing and determination of the motions for interlocutory injunctions already filed before the court and which have been adjourned to  the 23rd of July 2024,for hearing.

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