Court voids ex-Emir Sanusi’s banishment, orders Ganduje to apologise

Deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II
Deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the Kano state government to publish two national dailies apologizing to the dethroned Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi.

Sanusi’s forced exile from the state after his dethronement was illegal, unconstitutional, and a gross violation of his fundamental human rights, according to the court’s ruling, delivered by Justice Anwuli Chikere.

As a result, the court awarded N10 million in damages to Kano state in favour of the deposed Emir.

Sanusi was deposed as Emir of Kano State on March 9, 2020, after being accused of disloyalty and insubordination by the Kano State government.

Though the deposed Emir was initially banished to Loko village in Nasarawa State following his dethronement, he was later forcibly moved to Awe town, where he remained until March 13, 2020, when the court ordered his release.

Sanusi, who had since accepted his fate as God’s will, went to court to challenge the legality of his confinement in Nasarawa state.

In his suit, which was based on sections 34, 35, 40, 41, and 46 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the former Emir prayed the court to restore his rights to human dignity, personal liberty, freedom of association, and movement in Nigeria, among other things (apart from Kano State).

Respondents in his FHC/ABJ/CS/357/2020 suit were the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General of the State Security Service, the Attorney General of Kano State, and the Attorney General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sanusi’s lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, told the court during the adoption of his final brief of argument that his client was not before the court to challenge his dethronement.

Mahmoud stated that his client was in court for a gross violation of his fundamental rights in connection with the harsh treatment he received after being deposed by the Kano state government.

He said: “My lord, this is not a chieftaincy matter. The Applicant is not before this court to challenge the Respondents’ actions with regards to his removal as Emir of Kano, but the way he was bundled to Abuja and banished to a remote location”.

Mahmoud was outraged that, despite his client’s social standing, he was subjected to such degrading treatment.

He contended that it was clear from the way the former Emir was treated that his rights had been grossly violated, prompting him to seek the court’s intervention.

He asked the court to grant all of the reliefs sought by his client in the suit, including the declaration of his confinement in Nasarawa state as illegal.

However, through their respective lawyers, all of the Respondents urged the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

Mr Victor Okoye, counsel to the IGP, questioned the suit’s competence further, noting that the instrument enforcing Sanusi’s expulsion was drafted and signed by a Kano State government official.

As a result, he contended that the Applicant should have filed the case in a Kano state high court.

Similarly, counsel to the DSS’s Director-General, Godwin Agbadua, urged the court to dismiss the suit on the grounds that the alleged rights violation occurred in Kano, emphasizing that there is a Federal High Court in Kano where Sanusi could seek redress.

The Attorney General of Kano State, who was represented by Musa Mohammed, also challenged the court’s jurisdiction in Abuja to hear the case.

He urged the court to dismiss the case entirely due to a lack of jurisdiction and competence.

Meanwhile, in response to the verdict, the Kano State Attorney General, through the lawyer who represented him in court on Tuesday, Abdulsallam Salleh, stated that they would thoroughly review it before deciding on the next course of action.

“We will look at the judgement critically and consult with our client (Kano state government) on whether we will appeal against it on not”, Salleh told newsmen.