•Legal team gives IG, DSS 24 hours to release him
•Deposed emir sues for peace, gets appointment from el-Rufai
•Dethronement can’t stand in court, says Falana
Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
Despite suing for peace and rallying support for his successor, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, the dethroned Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, has instructed his legal team to challenge his banishment and detention by security operatives in court.
Sanusi, who was banished from Kano to Loko, a village in Nasarawa Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, was yesterday moved to Awe town, the headquarters of Awe Local Government Area of the state by the state government.
Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, had dethroned Sanusi on Monday, citing his alleged disobedience to constituted authorities, among others, as the reason for his ouster.
Ganduje’s Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Salihu Yakassai, yesterday expatiated on Sanusi’s dethronement, saying one of the reasons for his removal was the former emir’s frequent public criticism of Ganduje’s administration, adding that no government could condone the former emir’s criticisms.
But a human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana, faulted Sanusi’s dethronement, saying it could not stand in any court if challenged.
Addressing journalists yesterday in Kano, the head of the legal team of the deposed emir, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said Sanusi, through his chief of staff, had directed them to challenge the legality of his banishment and detention in court.
“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 archaic practice of banishment of deposed emirs, a colonial practice, has no basis under Nigerian law or the constitution. We are totally perplexed at the resort to this practice in present day Nigeria by its political leaders,” he stated.
He explained that they had written to the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) to ensure the immediate release of Sanusi within the next 24 hours or face legal action.
He said: “We are concerned about the personal safety and security of His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II, and wish to call on all well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to bring their influence to bear to ensure that His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi, regains his liberty immediately and to guarantee his safety and security.
“The legal team of his highness is working both in Kano and Abuja and unless he is released immediately, we will be taking appropriate legal action.”
He said the Kano State Emirate Council Law, which was recently enacted by the state did not give the State Executive Council or the governor the powers to unilaterally remove the emir.
Mahmoud said: “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 emir was also alleged to have ‘refused to attend official programmes and meetings organised by the 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 the State Council of Chiefs.
“Since the deposition was announced, I was at the palace yesterday (Monday) afternoon in the company of one of my colleagues to consult with the emir.
“In the letter of deposition, it was stated that the emir was to be removed to Nasarawa State. We requested to know if he was under arrest and if so we needed to see the warrant. The Commissioner of Police informed us that he was not under arrest. We informed the Commissioner of Police that it was illegal and a violation of his constitutional rights to remove him to Nasarawa State against his wish.
“The emir informed the Commissioner of Police that his friends had sent an aircraft to fly him and his family to Lagos and requested that they should be provided with the necessary security to the airport so that he could leave. The commissioner refused, saying that was not their instruction. They were willing to allow the family to leave for Lagos but he was to be flown to Abuja then taken onwards to Nasarawa State.
“We accompanied the Commissioner of Police to the Nigerian Air Force base in Kano where the emir was put in a private aircraft and departed about 6.40 p.m. The family subsequently boarded the aircraft arranged by his friends and departed for Lagos about 15 minutes later.”
El-Rufai Gives Sanusi New Appointment
A day after his dethronement, the Kaduna State Government yesterday named Sanusi a board member of the State Investment Promotion Agency (KADIPA).
A statement signed by Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, said the governor approved the reconstitution of the board of KADIPA with Sanusi as the vice-chairman of the agency.
Established in 2015, KADIPA has led the investment drive of the state and anchored the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business Charter that earned Kaduna State World Bank recognition as the number one place for doing business in Nigeria.
“Malam Nasir El-Rufai has appointed His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II, into the board of KADIPA. The appointment is part of the reconstitution of the board of KADIPA, which is statutorily chaired by the deputy governor and has as internal members, senior officials of the Kaduna State Government,” Adekeye said.
“El-Rufai said that Kaduna State hopes to benefit from the profile, experience, intellect and networks of His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who before becoming emir had built a solid reputation in global financial circles.”
The new board, which has 13 other members, would be chaired by the state Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, while Sanusi would serve as vice-chairman.
Nasarawa Moves Former Emir to New Location
THISDAY, however, learnt that the dethroned emir, who arrived at Loko village about 3 a.m. yesterday, was airlifted later in the day to Awe town in a helicopter manned by security operatives.
It was gathered that when the helicopter conveying the dethroned emir arrived at the Government House, Lafia, there was no interaction between the former emir and the persons waiting at the Lafia Government House helipad as he was ushered into an already waiting vehicle and led to his new home in Awe by the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Bage (rtd).
The state Governor, Mr. Abdullahi Sule, had convened an emergency meeting with heads of security agencies and traditional rulers of the state before the arrival of Sanusi to Lafia in order to discuss the erstwhile emir’s fate.
But there was no briefing to the press on the outcome of the emergency meeting between the governor and heads of security agencies as well as traditional rulers.
It was, however, gathered that the meeting deliberated on the relocation of the dethroned emir from Loko to Awe.
THISDAY learnt that the decision to relocate the former emir to Awe was due to the total absence of social amenities such as electricity, potable water as well as the volatile security environment of Loko, which is about 250 kilometres away from Nasarawa.
Ganduje’s Aide: No Govt Can Condone Sanusi’s Criticisms
However, shedding more light on the reasons for Sanusi’s dethronement, Yakassai attributed it to the frequent public criticism of Ganduje’s administration, saying that no government can condone the former emir’s rebuke.
He told Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme, that Ganduje deserved commendation for being lenient with Sanusi.
He said since Sanusi had easy access to the governor, he should have raised his concerns about Ganduje’s policies with the governor privately instead of criticising him publicly.
He said: “The emir had access to the governor and could have advised him if he wanted to; but unfortunately, he only finds podiums and stages as the only means to advise the government, which is not right.
“So, you can portray it has political or whatever but the fact remains that no one would allow such disrespect and open criticism when you have access to him.”
Yakassai cited the Kano Metro proposal, which attracted Sanusi’s public criticism, adding that the state government tolerated such an act of insubordination for so long.
“Since the creation of the new emirates by Governor Ganduje, you can count the number of important events organised by the state government, including international events, which the emir was invited and he never attended.
“I can tell you that the emir did not even attend the free and compulsory basic education programme in the state launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. People are free to say whatever they want to say but this is the reason for the dethronement.”
Yakassai explained that the reasons adduced for the removal of the former emir were appropriate because they were in contravention of the Emirate Council Law.
He claimed that Ganduje’s predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, issued four queries to Sanusi over various wrongdoings.
Former Emir Accepts Faith, Seeks Support for Successor
But earlier yesterday, the deposed emir had said he had accepted the dethronement as the will of God and had thanked Him for that.
Sanusi, in a video released in the wee hours of yesterday in which he spoke in Hausa, called on his family members and relations to support his successor.
Sanusi, who remained calm throughout the short speech, also prayed for and thanked the people of Kano for the regards they had for him while he was emir.
In the speech translated to English by THISDAY correspondent in Kano, he said: “One of the blessings I have received from Almighty Allah is that He made me the Emir of Kano on the 8th of June 2014, He kept me alive and healthy for almost six years on the throne of our blessed heritage. Today, Almighty Allah that made me the emir has destined and taken it away.
“We have always said it that being an emir is limited by time. The days Allah has willed for one to remain as emir are limited. Once those days are completed, one must vacate the throne whether he wants to or not. As a result of that, we accept whatever Allah wills. We accept; we are thankful, we are happy and we believe it is the best for us.
“We wish to thank the people of Kano for their cooperation in all these years, for the love, loyalty, obedience, and prayer they have shown us. We wish to thank all those that have assisted us during our reign, especially the members of our council and the chiefs that were loyal to us. We are also thankful to our relations who stood firmly in preserving our dignity and the dignity of this emirate.
“We wish to call on the public to remain peaceful, whosoever is made the emir, we hereby instruct our family members, children and all those we have authority on to declare their allegiance to him. They should respect him; protect his dignity and integrity and that of the emirate. This is because his dignity and integrity are the dignity and integrity of this emirate as well.
“We thank you all and condole with you on this. We assure you that Allah never makes mistakes, whatever Allah does is right. You should not be worried about today, for indeed whatever begins has an end at sight. May we end well in this world and may we see our end in good health.
“We thank the Almighty Allah that gave us this opportunity to stay all these years, for the renovation of the palace we undertook, and for the opportunity we got to take along the tracks of King Khalifa. We are proud of the way King Khalifa ruled and how he left it and how we were placed on the same tradition as he by the Almighty Allah. We seek Allah to give us the opportunity to end well in closeness to Him as he ended as well.
“We call on fellow Muslims to continue with the prayers they have been on all these years that Allah blesses our dear land, Kano, with peace and tranquility. May Allah bless you all; keep you alive and enrich our dear land. May He bless us with good leaders. May Allah bless this emirate and our country at large. May He return our land back to us. We thank you, thank you and thank you so much as we depart happily, peacefully and thankfully.”
Dethronement Can’t Stand in Court, Says Falana
Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has stated that Sanusi’s dethronement could not stand in any court if challenged.
Speaking on Arise TV, a sister broadcast station of THISDAY Newspapers, yesterday, he said apart from the way and manner he was dethroned and banished, the state government never accused him of corruption.
He said: “It was only last week that the Kano State House of Assembly opened an investigation into alleged corrupt practices against him. The Kano State anti-graft agency found him liable and he has gone to court. He was still in court when this charade happened.
“Sanusi was not given a fair hearing. The Kano State House of Assembly had not concluded investigations on him and worse still, the state government did not issue him any query this time around. For that, there is no way his dethronement can stand in any court.
“The state knows what it has done cannot stand in court, that is why the former emir was banished so that he will not challenge what has been done to him.”
He urged the deposed emir to reorganise himself and think of other ways to serve humanity.
He said it was baffling that at a time the country was going through serious economic challenges, it decided to embarrass one of the people that should help salvage the economy.
He linked the dethronement of Sanusi to 2023 politics, noting that the leaders are yet to tackle the huge economic challenge of this year, but are busy fighting over 2023 politics.
Falana in a separate statement issued yesterday also said under the current democratic dispensation in Nigeria, no state government could remove a traditional ruler, banish and detain him without following due process.
He cited the case of Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice, Kebbi State vs. HRH Al- Mustapha Jokolo (2013) LPELR-22349, where the Court of Appeal (per ADUMEIN, JCA) held that: “The Governor of Kebbi State has no right to act outside the clear and unambiguous provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (applicable to this case). Section 35 (1) of the said Constitution provides that every citizen of Nigeria is “entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty” except in the circumstances set out in subsections (a) to (f) thereof. Section 40 of the same Constitution provides that “every person is entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons.”
PDP Expresses Worries, Calls for Calm
Reacting to the emir’s removal, the PDP said the deposition, at the time the nation is battling worsening insecurity challenges, showed the insensitivity and poor appraisal of core national stability issues by the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, described the timing of the dethronement as a political blunder coming at a time the country is wobbling under the siege of insecurity, especially in a state such as Kano.
The PDP, however, called for calm and circumspection from all quarters, especially, given the security and political stability concerns in the nation.
Govs Can Dethrone Anybody, Says Buhari’s Aide
However, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, has justified the dethronement, saying that a governor could exercise powers over royal institutions within their jurisdiction.
Ogunlesi tweeted yesterday that “a sitting governor can dethrone anybody – they have the power. That is the way the system is set up. Nobody is above being dethroned. Governors formally appoint them, present them the staff of office and fund their offices.”
He said governors had veto powers over monarchs in their states; citing Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who “paraded Rivers traditional rulers recently and addressed them like a kindergarten class,” adding: “That is the power a governor has over royal institutions. Every governor; it actually didn’t start today, it has been so for a long, long time.”
According to him, “The British deposed Obas of Lagos/Benin 1851/1897; Alake temporarily deposed by 1948 women’s riots; Awo deposed Alaafin 1955; Olowo deposed 1966; Edo Milad tried to remove Oba of Benin as Chair, State Traditional Rulers Council 1999; Deji of Akure deposed 2010.”
Sanusi’s Rights Must Be Respected, Says AI
Also reacting to the banishment of the former emir yesterday, Amnesty International called on the federal government to respect his human rights.
A statement signed by its Country Director, Osai Ojigho, said right to dignity, freedom of expression and freedom of movement of the former emir must be restored.
It described Sanusi’s restriction and holding him incommunicado as a violation of his human rights as protected under the constitution and international human rights law.