Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday washed his hands off a suit seeking the proscription of Fulani herdsmen as a terrorist organization.
The suit instituted by a Makurdi based legal practitioner, Matthew Nyiutsa, has suffered some setbacks since it was filed on 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.
But before he left to the appellate court, Justice Kolawole was to deliver ruling on the ex parte application on June 21, 2018.
The said motion ex parte filed 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.
But after listening to submissions 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.
The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/499/18 is seeking the prohibition of all activities of Fulani herdsmen in Benue State which he claimed resulted in the deliberate and intentional killings, massacre, 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 the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to move a court of competent jurisdiction to proscribe herdsmen operating in Benue State and the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore as terrorists and a terrorist organization respectively.
The plaintiff, 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 the state.
He is also praying the court to declare that the series of armed attacks by herdsmen 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 the state
and similar attacks by herdsmen in Mbadwen, Uvir, Mbabai, Nyier, Mbayer/Yandev and Saghev council wards of Guma Local Government and some parts of Gwer- West Local Government Area amount to acts of terrorism as defined under Section 1(3) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended.
The plaintiff, who is demanding N50 million as exemplary damages against the respondents further prayed the court to declare that the AGF and President Buhari (1st and 2nd respondents) have mandatory and 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 in Kaduna in June, 2017, to the effect of mobilizing their members and other herdsmen to cause anarchy in Benue State amounts 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.