Court dismisses El-Zakzaky’s N2bn suit against Army, AGF

By AbdulRaheem Aodu Kaduna

Th e Federal High Court sitting in Kaduna, yesterday, dismissed the suit brought by leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem ElZakzaky and his wife, Malama Zeenat El-Zakzaky, against Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff , Lt.-General Yusuf Tukur Buratai, the Attorney General and Minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and one other, for abuse of court proceedings. El-Zakzaky his wife had instituted a N2 billion suit against the Army, COAS, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Attorney General of Kaduna state, over alleged invasion of their private house at No1 Wali Road Gyellesu, Zaria, Kaduna state by armed soldiers, who allegedly shot and killed three of their children while injuring other members of the family including the two applicants, as well as the arrest without warrant of the Sheikh and his wife at their house and the demolition of their house at No1 Wali Road Gyellesu, Zaria, Kaduna state.

In his ruling, Justice Saleh Musa Shaibu said the 34-paragraph affi davit with two annexures deposed to by daughter of the plaintiff s, Zuhalla Ibraheem, was improperly done, as the deponent did not state reason why she was the one deposing to the affi davit instead of her parents. He said since the two suits separately brought by Sheikh elZakzaky and his wife Malama Zeenat were similar and seeking the same reliefs, he decided to consolidate them to save time. Th e suit, fi led by lead counsel to the applicants, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), sought eight reliefs that include declarations by the Court that the violent invasion of the applicants’ private residence at No 1 Wali Road Gyellesu, Zaria, Kaduna state by armed soldiers, is a fl agrant violation of their fundamental right; that shooting of the applicants by armed soldiers who are agents of respondents one and two is illegal and unconstitutional; and that the cruel inhuman treatment of the applicants at their private residence is a fl agrant violation of their fundamental right to dignity of human person.

Th e suit also sought for declarations that the alleged extrajudicial killings of Ahmad Ibraheem 18, Ali Ibraheem 16 and Ummi Ibraheem 14, by armed agents of the third and fourth respondents is illegal and unconstitutional; that the arrest of the applicants without warrant at their private residence by agents of third and fourth respondents is fl agrant abuse of their fundamental right and that the demolition of the applicants’ house on Monday December 15, 2015 by agents of third and fourth respondents is fl agrant abuse of their fundamental rights to own property. Th e suit therefore asked for an order of the Court to restrain the respondents and their agents from further violating the fundamental rights of the applicants without legal backing, as well as an order of the Court for the respondents to pay each of the applicants the sum of N500 million, being general and specifi c damages.

Justice Shaibu in his rulings said that the issue of jurisdiction raised by counsel to the third respondent, TD Agbe and adopted by the other respondents enjoys primacy. He added that there is ground for abuse of judicial process because Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Federal High Court Abuja had “delivered ruling on December 2, 2016. “Reliefs number 3, 5 and 6 are based on rights guaranteed to the applicants which have been determined by the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/281/2016. Th is suit seeks to re-litigate issues that have been fi led and determined. Th is is a clear case of abuse of judicial process.

“Th e law is settled that a claimant can’t conduct his case piecemeal, it’s abuse of court proceedings. Th e law allows a claimant to state his case cumulatively. Th is court lacks the power to review the case that has been appealed. “I have not been called to review that judgment, I have not done that, I have not gone beyond making the relief and grounds granted by that court. Th e applicant cannot seek to re-litigate the same case before this court. “Th e present proceeding qualifi es as an abuse of court proceedings.

Th e ground of abuse of court proceedings has merit, and it subsists. Subsequently, the court hereby struck out the case, but I award no cost.” Speaking after the judgment counsel to the applicants, Barrister Festus Okoye, described the judgement as poor, noting that it would not be accepted by his clients, thereby giving room for appealing the case. “It is evident that the judge puts lot of industry in writing the judgment. We are going to take further instructions from my client. Defi nitely, the matter would go on appeal because the Sheikh would not accept the judgement,” hinted

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