By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has declared as unconstitutional, the Special Task Force on illegal Smuggling of Firearms that was set up by Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice James Omotosho, held that governor Bello “had no powers to unilaterally regulate or control the possession of or dealing in firearms in Kogi state or any part thereof.”
It held that the Department of State Services (DSS), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Inspector General of Police and the National Security Adviser (NSA), are the proper agencies to regulate the possession of and dealing in firearms and ammunitions in both Kogi state and other parts of the country.
Consequently, Justice Omotosho declared that the appointment of Mr. Friday Makama as Director General of the special task force by governor Bello, “for the purpose of superintending firearms in Kogi State, is illegal, null and void.”
“That the appointment of the 2nd Defendant (Makama) as Director General, Special Task Force on illegal Smuggling of Firearms to Kogi State is illegal and constitutes a threat to the safety and security of Kogi State.
“That an order is hereby made, setting aside the appointment of the 2nd Defendant by the 1st Defendant as Director General, Special Task Force on Illegal Smuggling of Firearms to Kogi state.
“That an order is hereby made directing the 3rd to 6th Defendants to invite, interrogate and Investigate the 2nd Defendant and all persons working with, or under him with a view to receiving, repossessing and/or retrieving all firearms currently in his possession or in possession of the Special Task Force or any member thereof.
“That an order of perpetual injunction is hereby made, restraining the 1st Defendant from regulating or controlling or purporting to regulate or control the possession of or dealing in firearms in Kogi State or any part thereof,” the court held.
The judgement followed a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/697/2023, which was brought before the court by a concerned indigene of the state, Hon. Ahmadu Danjuma.
Cited as 1st to 6th Defendants in the matter which the plaintiff filed through his lawyer, Mr. Promise Ogbadu, were; Governor Bello, Mr. Makama, the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Inspector General of Police and the National Security Adviser (NSA).
The court dismissed a preliminary objection that governor Bello filed to challenge its jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Governor Bello had argued that the plaintiff ought to have instituted the legal action before either a State High Court or the Federal High Court in Kogi State.
He insisted that the Abuja Division of the Court lacked both territorial and subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case which he said was incompetent.
Besides, Governor Bello, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. A. M. Adoyi, maintained that issues the plaintiff raised in the suit were contentious and therefore ought to have been commenced through a Writ of Summons to enable witnesses to testify before the court.
However, in his judgement, Justice Omotosho held that the issue of regulation of firearms in the country belongs to the Exclusive Legislative list.
He noted that all the heads of the security agencies that were cited as Defendants in the suit, are based in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, adding that section 251 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, imbued the court with the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine the case.
Therefore, Justice Omotosho dismissed governor Bello’s objections and granted all the reliefs that were sought by the plaintiff.
Culled from Vanguard news