News

June 23, 2024

Ado Bayero vs Sanusi: ‘Judiciary has been set up for destruction’

Aminu Ado Bayero

Aminu Ado Bayern

By Ise-Oluwa Ige, Abuja

Senior lawyers across the country, including Samuel Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, Chief (Dr) Richard Oma Ahunauogho, SAN, and Mr Israel Olorundare, SAN, at the weekend, declined to comment on last Thursday’s ruling by a Federal High Court in Kano which removed the 16th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, from office.

The lawyers cited various reasons for their stance, including the pendency of the substantive case before the Court of Appeal and the unavailability of the full ruling (electronic and hard copy versions) of the court on the matter to enable them to read, digest and review same.

But another senior lawyer, who agreed to speak with Sunday Vanguard on the matter on the condition of anonymity, at the weekend, raised the alarm that some politicians in the country were using the Kano Emirate case not only to set the judiciary up for destruction but also to create political crisis in the state similar to what happened in the South-West during the First Republic.

“I have been following the events in Kano state as it affects the enactment of a new emirate law to dethrone Emir Ado-Bayero and enthrone Emir Sanusi II with the various resultant court actions filed in respect of the development,” the lawyer said.

“I have also read various media reports on the latest ruling by Liman J. on the status of the Kano Emirate Councils and the claims by opposing parties on who is favoured by Justice Liman’s Thursday ruling, I am however of the view that all such interpretations were unnecessary given the fact that the judge, Justice Liman, in the first place, has no subject-matter jurisdiction, under any guise, to entertain the matter, being a chieftaincy-related case.

“Supreme Court had ruled in the case of Tukur V Governor of Gongola State that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction in respect of chieftaincy matter. This particular case happens to be one of them.
“Except tomorrow, the Supreme Court would now depart from its judgment which it laid down in 1987 or so. I don’t know where this Federal High Court got its jurisdiction.

“As far as I am concerned, politicians are using this case to set the judiciary up for destruction. Otherwise, if there is nobody that is supporting Justice Liman at the Federal High Court, if there is no federal might behind him, by now, there should be a petition against him before the NJC for him to be removed.

Precedent

“It is an act of judicial impenitence for him to embark on this kind of journey when the precedent is very clear on it.

“Chieftaincy matter is not part of what is specified in section 251 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

“Even if the applicant, in this case, claims to have come before the court by a way of fundamental human rights, the Supreme Court had also clearly said in that Tukur V Governor of Gongola State that applicant should approach a court that has full jurisdiction like the state High Court.

“The implication is that you are not expected to litigate your fundamental human rights at the Federal High Court and then litigate the chieftaincy matter at the state High Court.

“Oputa JSC of blessed memory stated it specifically there that you don’t need to split your case.
“But that same judge, Justice Liman has been doing a lot of things and getting away with them. But can you blame him?

“To be honest with you, I have my fear.

“The way I am seeing it, it is like the way the Federal Government of Nigeria supported S.L.A Akintola in those days and we all knew what was the consequence of the support of the Federal Government for UPGA against APGA in the First Republic?

“If wisdom does not prevail on the Federal Government, if somebody doesn’t make the FG to realize that the way they are working was the way that they did it in the First Republic, the scenario of the First Republic when Akintola said he has removed Aderemi Adesoji as the governor of Western Region and the Federal Government backed him up may recur”

‘Not helpful’

Renowned constitutional lawyer, Professor Auwalu Yadudu, however, declared that Justice Liman’s ruling on the Kano Emirate crisis was not helpful for the judicial process as he appeared to have contradicted himself on the same issue of jurisdiction.

Yadudu said the ruling was unbecoming. “How can you say the actions taken pursuant to a law are set aside, and then say you are not delving into the validity of the said law?” he queried.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has similarly described the judicial orders in Kano State as an embarrassment to the judiciary.

He said there was the need for higher courts to address the political and judicial confusion in both Kano and Rivers states.

“Sanusi was not said to have disobeyed any order, so if the order affected him, he ought to have been put on notice,” the Lagos lawyer said.

Falana described the court’s stance as confusing with regard to the broader issue of the Supreme Court’s judgments on the limitations of Federal High Court powers over traditional institutions.
“To be a chief is not a fundamental right; it is a privilege,” he added.

Repeal

Sunday Vanguard reports that Kano State House of Assembly, had, on May 23, 2024, passed the Kano Emirates Council Law (repeal bill) 2024 sponsored by the Majority Leader and member representing the Dala Constituency, Lawan Hussaini Chediyar Yan Gurasa, of the state.

The Bill effectively repealed the immediate past Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s Kano Emirate Council Law 2019, Kano State Emir’s Appointment and Deposition Amendment Law 2019 and Kano State Emirate Council Amendment Law 2023, which created five emirates in Kano and paved the way for the deposition of Sanusi II four years ago.

Specifically, the Emir Sanusi Lamido Bill reverts the state’s highest ranking traditional institution to its former structure of one emir with all the offices established under the previous law abolished. It also reverts all district heads elevated or appointed under the repealed law to their previous positions.

The Bill was transmitted to the state governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, same day it was passed by the state lawmakers.

The state governor, who promptly appended his signature to the Bill to become law on the same May 23, 2024, at about 5:10pm, thereafter, dethroned the 15th Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero, who was installed by his predecessor, Ganduje.

In what appears a mystery, a Federal High Court judge, Justice Mohammed Liman, purportedly sat after the governor assented to the law in the evening of May 23, and issued an exparte order to stop Governor Yusuf from implementing the new Kano Emirates Council Law 2024 or reinstating Sanusi II pending the determination of a substantive suit filed on the matter.

The claim regarding the order of the Federal High Court though was all over the social media but its certified true copy was yet to be served on the state governor on Friday, May 24, 2024, when Sanusi II as the sole Emir of Kano and the head of the Kano Emirate Council on the strength of the new Bill he signed into law the previous day and the recommendation of Kano kingmakers.

The development galvanized a Kano native, Alhaji Aminu Babba Dangundi, to drag the state government, Kano State House of Assembly, the Speaker, Kano State House of Assembly, Attorney-General of Kano State, the Commissioner of Police, Kano State, Inspector General of Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Department of State Service before the Federal High Court.

The plaintiff prayed for an order declaring null and void the conduct of the 2nd and 3rd defendants in passing into law the Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Law, 2024, in violation of the order of “this Honourable Court.” He also prayed the court for an order declaring null and void the appointment of Sanusi as the 16th Emir of Kano by the 1st and 4th defendants pursuant to the provisions of the 23rd Kano State Emirate Council (Repeal) Law, 2024.