The legal team of the dethroned Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi ll, has threatened to sue the Kano State Government over what it called “illegal detention and banishment “ of its client.
It said was driven at night for seven hours to a remote village in Nasarawa State, all in a bid to cause him “maximum trauma and distress.”
Mr Abubakar Balarabe-Mahmoud, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and leader of the team, made this known just as the state Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission said it would resume the investigation of Sanusi.
Balarabe-Mahmoud , at a news conference in Kano on Tuesday, said: “We have not spoken to the Emir since Monday, but we understand they are at their destination somewhere in a remote part of Nassarawa State after driving for nearly seven hours in the night and arrived at about 2am on Tuesday.
“We understand the choice of location to detain Sanusi was intended to cause him maximum trauma and distress. This again is illegal and unconstitutional.
“According to instructions we received from the Emir through his Chief of Staff, we are directed to take legal action to challenge the legality of his detention and banishment.
“We are of the firm view that this action is illegal and unconstitutional. Section 35 of our Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to personal liberty. The basis of the denial of personal liberty are set out clearly in this Section of the Constitution. None applies to the case of Sanusi.
“The archaic practice of banishment of deposed Emirs, a colonial practice, has no basis under Nigerian law or Constitution. We are totally perplexed at the resort to this practice in present day Nigeria by its political leaders.
“The illegality of such practice was pronounced by the Court of Appeal in Attorney-General, Kebbi State vs. former Emir of Kwandu, Alhaji Al-Mustapha Jakolo and ors 2013 LPELR 22349/CA where the court pronounced it as illegal and unconstitutional and gross violation of the rights of the Emir.
“This is what the court said in that case: The banishment and deportation from Kebbi State by the governor of Kebbi State of the first respondent, Jokolo, to Lafia in Nassarawa State and later to Obi also in Nassarawa State is most unconstitutional and illegal.”
The Senior Advocate therefore called on the Minister of Justice,Abubakar Malami; the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu and the Director General of Department State Services to ensure the release of the banished former Emir.
Stating that his team was “ concerned about his(Sanusi) personal safety and security’ he also called on “Nigerians and the international community to bring their influence to bear “ on the issue.
“We, the legal team of the dethroned Emir,is working both in Kano and Abuja and unless he is released immediately, we will be taking appropriate legal action,” Balarabe-Mahmoud said.
He argued that the Kano State Emirate Council Law which was recently enacted does not give the Executive Council of the state or the governor the powers to unilaterally remove the Emir.
The SAN added: “The reason given in the letter of deposition of the Emir dated 9th March, 2020, was alleged ‘disrespect to lawful instructions from the authorities.’
“The (deposed)Emir was also alleged to have ‘refused to attend official programmes and meetings organised by government’, as far as we are aware, there has not been any notice of such disrespect ever given to the Emir or query issued to him for refusal to attend official functions.
“He was never given any opportunity to defend himself against those charges. Section 13 of the Kano Emirates Council Law 2019 cited in the letter of deposition empowers the Governor to depose an Emir only after due inquiry and in consultation with State Council of Chiefs.
“We are not aware of such due inquiry nor are we aware that the Kano State Council of Chiefs was at any time summoned to any meeting much less discuss the removal of the Emir or give any advise to the governor on the deposition.”
He added that the deposed Emir was the Chairman of the council and if such meeting was summoned, he would have been aware.
“He would have informed us, in our view, the action was patently illegal and unconstitutional and a clear abuse of power,” he said.