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Court dismisses Matawalle’s fundamental rights suit against Zamfara State Government

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A Federal High Court has dismissed a fundamental human rights suit filed by a former governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, against the state government and some security agencies.

The court also dismissed the former governor’s application seeking to stop the state government from retrieving all official vehicles carted away by the previous administration.

In June, the Zamfara State Police Command raided Mr Matawalle’s residences and seized over 40 vehicles.

But Mr Matawalle, who is currently the minister of state for Defence, approached the Federal High Court in Gusau and secured an order directing the police to return all the vehicles seized from the residence of the former governor.

Delivery judgement on the originating motion, with suit no. FHC, S/CS/29 2023, on Friday, the presiding judge, A.G. Mahmud, dismissed Mr Matawalle’s application.

The suite had Bello Muhammad Matawalle as complainant, while the Nigerian Police Force, Inspector General of Police, Commissioner of Police Zamfara State, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Attorney General of the Federation, and Attorney General of Zamfara State as respondents.

The judge in his ruling said,” All the counsel to the parties having adopted their processes before the court, and the judgement having been entered this day, 1 day of December, 2023.

“It is hereby ordered as follows. “The entire suit is hereby failed and accordingly dismissed. No cost is awarded”.

Reacting, the state governor, Dauda Lawal, said the judgement will encourage his administration to ensure that justice prevails and all perpetrators of financial banditry in Zamfara are brought to book.”

Mr Lawal, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Suleiman Idris, alleged that efforts to get the former governor and his aides to amicably return all the official vehicles proved abortive.

“All demands for the return of the said vehicles proved abortive, and as a result, the Zamfara State Government resorted to obtaining a court order to retrieve them. In pursuit of that order, a total number of over 50 vehicles were recovered by the police.

“After the vehicles were recovered, Bello Matawalle quickly went to the Federal High Court in Gusau. The court granted an order for the cars to be returned to him. Additionally, he filed a separate suit at the same court, seeking to enforce his fundamental right to own property, including the vehicles in question.

“The Zamfara State Government requested the transfer of the case to another jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

“The Federal High Court of Nigeria, Sokoto Judicial Division, dismissed the matter on Friday. The court refused the relief sought by Bello Matawalle and rejected his claim to the ownership of the official vehicles. As a result, the vehicles are still considered the property of the Zamfara State Government.

“Our government is committed to recovering all that rightfully belongs to the people through an all-encompassing rescue mission that leaves no stone unturned.

“The judgement by the Federal High Court will encourage us to ensure that justice prevails and all perpetrators of financial banditry in Zamfara are brought to book.”

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