Latest on Kano emirate: Court leaves contenders in limbo


The hopes of the two contending forces in the dispute over the most appropriate claimant to the throne of the Emir of Kano that the simmering disagreement would end by yesterday were dashed after the Federal High Court delivered rulings that left both sides in limbo.

While the court declared the actions taken by Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf of May 23, 2024, as “null and void”, it stated, however, that its ruling does not affect the validity of the Kano Emirates Council (Repeal) Bill 2024, which was passed by the Kano State House of Assembly.

The actions taken by the state governor on May 23, 2024 included the deposition of the 15th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, and the reversal of the status of the emirs of Bichi, Rano, Gaya, and Karaye emirates to that of district heads, following the collapse of their emirates into Kano Emirate, reports Daily Trust.

Based on the law, the governor had also re-appointed the 14th Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, as the 16th Emir of Kano.

Emir Sanusi was deposed in 2020 by Governor Yusuf’s predecessor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who had also enacted the law that divided the Kano emirates into five.

But the state House of Assembly passed a bill on May 22 that repealed the Ganduje-approved law, and passed another in its place. The governor signed the new emirates council law at exactly 5:10pm on May 23, 2024, in the company of his deputy, the Speaker of the State Assembly, and other principal officers of his government. He subsequently announced the deposition of Emir Bayero and the reversal of the creation of the four emirates of Bichi, Rano Karaye, and Gaya.

The governor thereafter announced the appointment of Sanusi II as the new emir of a united Kano Emirate.

Dissatisfied with this, a kingmaker in the former Kano emirate, Aminu Babba Dan Agundi, the Sarkin Dawaki Babba, approached the Federal High Court and secured an ex parte order for the status quo to be maintained.

What the judge said

Delivering the ruling on two motions before the court yesterday, Justice Abdullahi Muhammad- Liman set aside Governor Yusuf’s actions on the matter.

Justice Liman also ordered all parties to maintain the status quo ante.

He held that the respondents were aware of the earlier order dated May 23, to maintain status quo, pending the hearing and determination of the case, but went ahead in flagrant disobedience to the order to carry out certain actions.

“I think it is a very serious matter for anyone to flout the orders of the court and go scot-free with it.

“The catastrophic situation could have been averted if the respondents followed due process by complying with the court order, which would still have allowed them to carry out their assignments.

“Having been satisfied that the defendants have become aware of the order but went ahead to implement the law, it is necessary for the court to assume its coercive powers to enforce compliance with its orders.

“In the circumstances, I hereby order that every step or action taken by the respondents in pursuant to Kano Emirate Council Repeal Law 2024 is null and void and is set aside,” Justice Liman ruled.

“However, this order does not affect the validity of the law,’’ the judge added.

The judge, similarly, refused to grant the motion seeking the declaration of the Kano emirates council repeal law null and void.

“The applicant cannot challenge the power of the assembly to make laws nor challenge the power of the governor to assent to them,” he held.

Muhammad-Liman granted the respondents’ application for stay of proceedings pending hearing and determination of their application at the Court of Appeal on jurisdiction.

“I hereby transfer the case to Justice Simon Amobeda, Federal High Court 3,” he said.

The judge’s transfer of the case to another judge, it was gathered, was informed by his recent elevation to the bench of the Court of Appeal.

Kano insists ruling affirmed Bayero’s deposition, asks police to evict 15th Emir.

Speaking on the matter hours after the court ruling, the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Kano State, Haruna Dederi, said at a press briefing that the ruling of the court “has unequivocally reaffirmed the validity of the law passed by the Kano State House of Assembly and assented to by His Excellency the Executive Governor of Kano State on Thursday 23rd May, 2024 by 5:10pm.

“This part of the judgement is very fundamental to the entire matter. Further implication of the ruling is that all actions done by the government before the emergence of the interim order of the honourable court are equally validated. This means that the abolishment of the five emirates created in 2019 is validated, and the deposition of the five emirs is also sustained by the Federal High Court.

“By implication, this means that Muhammadu Sanusi II remains the Emir of Kano. The judge also granted our application for the stay of proceedings until the Court of Appeal deals with the appeal before it on jurisdiction.

“Happily, the signing of the law and the reinstatement of His Highness, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, were done on 23rd May, 2024 before the emergence of the interim order, which was served on us on Monday, 27th May, 2024.”

The AG also said: “Following this court’s ruling, Kano State government has directed the state commissioner of police to remove the deposed emir of the eight metropolitan local governments from the government property where he is trespassing, as the government has already concluded arrangements for the general reconstruction and renovation of the property, including the demolishing and reconstruction of the dilapidated wall fence, with immediate effect.”

Earlier, Barrister Ibrahim Wangida Isa, a counsel for the Kano State government, had told Daily Trust on telephone that it was not true that the court nullified the law and restored Emir Bayero.

He said, contrary to reports, the ruling of the court “was that the validity of the Kano emirates law was not in question and was not set aside.

The court only said the actions taken by the government in the execution of the law were set aside.”

Similarly, a press release shared by the spokesman to Governor Yusuf, Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, also stated that the ruling had “brought to an end the argument on the deposition of former Emir Aminu Ado Bayero as the court ruled that the new Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains valid.

“According to the ruling, all five emirates of Gaya, Rano, Karaye, Kano and Bichi remained abolished.

“While delivering the ruling today, Justice A.M. Liman held that the Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains the law and its validity is intact, but actions taken after assenting to the law when an order from the court was issued are voided.

“Gov. Abba Kabir Yusuf has assented to the new law and reinstated the 14th Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi as the 16th Emir of one united Kano at the same time (23rd May, 2024 by 5.10pm). The law is still the law, but actions carried out in the execution of the law are set aside”, the release stated.

It added that: “Justice Liman also granted a stay of proceeding and transferred the case to his learned brother of court three, Justice Amobeda. This bars all parties from taking any steps to enforce the ruling until after the determination of the appeal.

“By this decision of the Federal High Court, the five former emirs, including that of Kano with eight local government areas, remained deposed and the defunct Emirates remained abolished.

“It is therefore ascertained that the 16th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, remains on the throne and Aminu Ado Bayero remains deposed while the legal tussle continues.”

Ruling strange, confusing – Prof. Yadudu

Reacting to the ruling, renowned constitutional lawyer, Professor Auwalu Yadudu, told our correspondent that the judge’s pronouncements were strange and baffling by approbating and reprobating in the same breath.

He said the development was not helpful for the judicial process, stressing that the judge assuming jurisdiction on the fundamental human rights aspect and refusing the same on the validity of the substance of the case—the Kano emirates law—has “muddled up the case, and it is very unbecoming of a judge who has now been elevated to the Court of Appeal”.

Professor Yadudu clarified that while he was not accusing the judge of any impropriety, the pronouncements were unbecoming. “How can you say the actions taken in pursuant of a law are set aside, and then say you are not delving into the validity of the said law?” he queried.

Prof. Yadudu said further that the judge had more or less held that he lacked jurisdiction on the issue by transferring the case to another judge, but still went ahead to set aside the governor’s actions.

He said that the ex-parte order should no longer be of any currency because it is being challenged at the Appeal Court, and the judge himself admitted knowledge of this by granting a stay of proceedings and also deciding not to grant an order to nullify the law.

“All these are avoidable. It is not helpful for the judicial process. It is strange and doesn’t speak well of the judge. The question of whether the governor’s actions came before and after the exparte order is a question of fact or evidence. It seems from the record that the order came after,” he said.

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