NJC Holds Emergency Meeting Next Week over Kano Emirate, to Probe Chief Judges

•CJN summons FHC CJ, Kano CJ over conflicting court orders

•NBA seeks disciplinary measures against culprits 

•Groups say their resistance not political

Alex Enumah in Abuja and Ahmad Sorondinki in Kano

The National Judicial Council (NJC) has proposed an emergency meeting for next week, where the the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho and his counterpart in Kano State, Justice Dije Aboki, would be invited and subjected to serious investigations.

This came as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has summoned both judges over the recent conflicting orders emanating from the courts under them.

At the same time, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called for disciplinary actions against lawyers and judges involved in the issuance of conflicting court orders in the Kano Emirate legal tussle.

Also, prominent groups in two of the four dissolved Emirates Councils, have again kicked against abolition of the emirates, saying their resistance had no political bias as being peddled in some quarters.

According to a statement by the Director of Information, National Judicial Council (NJC), Mr Soji Oye, the two head of courts, were to meet with the CJN today, May 30, 2024.

The statement read: “Sequel to the conflicting judgements emanating from the Federal High Court, and Kano State High Court of Justice on the chieftaincy matter in Kano State, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, National Judicial Council, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON, has summoned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, and Chief Judge of Kano State High Court, Justice Dije Aboki for an emergency meeting in his chambers tomorrow Thursday May 30, 2024.

“The meeting which is a prelude to whole scale investigation by the National Judicial Council is to enable the CJN have a proper briefing on this very disturbing development by the two respective Chief Judges.”

The statement added that there was a strong indication that the “NJC will conduct an emergency meeting next week, where the subject judges are likely to be invited and subjected to serious investigations.”

Since last week that the Kano State Government repealed the law creating four additional emirates for Kano metropolis, both the federal and Kano State high courts had been issuing orders that were at variance to the government as well as security agencies.

Justice A. M. Liman had in an exparte ordered the security agencies not to implement the new law passed by the state assembly dissolving the emirates, with the intention of halting the reinstatement of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II.

However, the government had already gone ahead with the installment, claiming that the restraining order came after the installment of Sanusi, adding also that the judge who issued the order was not physically present in Kano.

They argued further that as at 5pm Friday, when the governor signed the bill dissolving the former emirates, it was not possible for the applicant to have filed the suit, made payment and also obtained an enrolled order.

But following application from the government, the Kano State High Court, presided over by Justice Amina Adamu Aliyu, issued an injunction restraining the five deposed emirs from parading themselves as emirs and also asked that they vacate their respective palaces.

This order, however, ran contrary to the earlier one issued to the security agencies by Justice Liman.

Shortly after, another Federal High Court in Kano, presided over by Justice S. A. Amobeda, issued an order for the eviction of Sanusi from the Kofar Kudu Palace, reinforcing the authority of the 15th Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero.

Immediately, too, Justice Amina issued a counter order to even up with the other camp, a development which raised concerns about the state of the Kano Emirate and the escalation of its rulership tussle.

But the NBA, which called for disciplinary actions against erring members, said the actions of the ministers in the Temple of Justice, had brought disgrace and shame to the profession and exposed the entire legal profession to public ridicule and opprobrium.

The NBA President, Mr Yakubu Maikyau, in a statement, yesterday, vowed to drag any lawyer found culpable in the matter before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) for necessary sanctions.

He called on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and his counterpart in the High Court of Kano State to identify the judicial officers involved and drag them before the NJC for disciplinary action.

“I have keenly followed the developments on the recent events concerning the stool of the Emir of Kano.

“I must say, without any equivocation, that the conducts of counsel and the courts in the handling of the proceedings which culminated in the orders issued by the Federal High Court, the Kano State High Court and again the Federal High Court, in circus, have brought utter disgrace and shame to the profession – have exposed the entire legal profession in Nigeria to public ridicule and opprobrium.

“The damage is one that would take the legal profession a long time to recover from. It is unfortunate and was totally uncalled for.

“For a country, whose legal resources and expertise have for several decades been exported and positively impacted not only the African continent but the world at large, it is completely unacceptable that the processes of our courts would be deployed in the manner we have witnessed in the last couple of days, on a subject matter that is as clear as chieftaincy dispute.

“This is a subject that has been sufficiently dealt with by legislations and case law, leaving no one confused about the jurisprudence on the subject – both procedural and substantive.

“Without prejudice to the subsisting actions before both the Federal High Court and the Kano State High Court, it is my considered view that there is urgent need to scrutinise the professional conducts of both counsel and the judges involved in these matters.

“This is to enable the relevant bodies or institutions determine their culpability or otherwise, from an ethical and professional standpoint.

“I therefore call on the respective heads of the courts of the judges concerned, to take immediate steps to look into their conducts with the view to finding any possible abuse of their judicial offices and file a report with the National Judicial Council for necessary action.

“The NBA on the other hand will investigate the conducts of the counsel involved in these cases and shall not hesitate to commence disciplinary action against them before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, should there be any finding of alleged professional misconduct against them,” The NBA boss said.

On their part, one of the two stakeholder groups, Inuwar Jama’ar Masarautar Bichi (Bichi Emirate Development Association), warned that, they would not accept any arrangement other than the reversal of the law to restore their emirate.

Leader of the group, Bello Gambo Bichi, said the formation of the five emirates by the former administration of Abdullahi Ganduje had brought numerous development to their respective areas.

According to him, the Bichi Emirate had witnessed development in the areas of healthcare, education, economy, agriculture and road infrastructure.

The second group of prominent elders of Rano Emirate Council, in the Kano south, under the leadership of Alhaji Musa Salihu Doguwa, told journalists during a press conference at the press center, that the way and manner the amendments law was done remained controversial.

He added that the members of the state assembly hastily amended the law on how the governor assented to it was also a significant setback to the progress and development of the emirates.

His listed some of the development projects brought as a result of the upgrade of the new emirates in southern Kano brought about under the leadership of the former Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje.

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