Kano Emirship: Lawyers worry over conflicting judgments



The Kano Emirship tussle, which came to a head fortnight ago with the return of Lamido Sanusi as the new emir after five years of dethronement, has again exposed the rot in the Nigerian judiciary and our legal system as different court orders were issued.

Conflicting orders from courts of coordinate jurisdiction have become an embarrassment in Nigeria, particularly, in cases involving politically- exposed persons.
Many Nigerians, including lawyers have also condemned the spate of conflicting court judgments, which many aver have put the judiciary on the spotlight of infamy. The cases involving the struggle for the Emir’s throne in Kano and the conflicting court orders on the former governor of Kogi State Yahaya Bello have been referenced as examples of big low, which the judiciary has sunk.
Only recently, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) described as disgraceful the conduct of lawyers and judges involved in the issuance of conflicting and counter court orders with respect to the Kano emirate tussle.
“I must say, without any equivocation, that the conducts of counsels 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 a circus, have brought utter disgrace and shame to the profession and exposed the entire legal profession in Nigeria to public ridicule and opprobrium,” NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau, wrote in a statement on behalf of the association of recent in a terse and poignant response to the judgements.
“The damage would take the legal profession a long time to recover from. It is unfortunate and was uncalled for,” said Mr. Maikyau as he called for a probe of the lawyers and judges involved in the crisis.
Recall that the Kano Emirate imbroglio was caused a month ago with the signing of a law by Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State, reversing the balkanization of Kano emirate into five splinters by the former administration in the state.
Implementing the law led the governor into reinstating Lamido Sanusi as the sole Emir of Kano. Sanusi was dethroned in March 2020 and replaced with Aminu Ado Bayero by the former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje administration.
The new law, which came into force with immediate effect dissolved the four other emirate councils of Gaya, Karaye, Rano, and Bichi created by the past administration and merged them under one Kano emirate. The governor dethroned the emirs of the four proscribed splinter emirates and Mr Ado-Bayero, and restored Sanusi as the sole Emir of Kano on Friday.
Since the controversial development, a wave of conflicting and counter court orders issued in favour and against different parties to the tussle over the throne of the Emir of Kano have followed.
On Friday, the day Sanusi’s reappointment was announced, the Federal High Court in Kano restrained the Kano State Government from implementing the new emirate law under which the reinstatement was done. This was allegedly signed by a judge said to be in the United States at the time of issuance.

But the Monday following, the Kano State High Court ordered the police to evict Aminu Ado-Bayero from the mini palace in Nasarawa area of the Kano metropolis, where his deposition was announced by the state government.
However, in a counter order on Tuesday, a judge of the Federal High Court in Kano, S. Amobeda, ordered the police to evict the reinstated Mr Sanusi from the Emir’s Palace in Kofar Kudu area of Kano metropolis of Kano State.
The judge gave order to the Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and the police to ensure that all rights and privileges of an Emir were given to Ado-Bayero.
There was also another order by a judge, Amina Aliyu, of the Kano State High Court, on Tuesday, restraining the police, the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigerian military from evicting Sanusi from his palace.
These conflicting orders have created confusion and heightened tension in the state, leaving the state government and security agencies the opportunity to pick and choose which of them to obey, depending on which side of the tussle they are backing.
In an angry reaction to the shameful orders, the NBA implored the Chief Judges of both the Federal High Court and the Kano State High Court to probe the actions of the Judges involved in the issuance of the confusing court orders and report their findings to the National Judicial Council (NJC). The NJC is the body saddled with disciplining of erring Judges.
“I, therefore, call on the respective heads of the Courts of the Judges concerned, to take immediate steps to look into their conduct 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 urged.
In respect of the lawyers enmeshed in the orders, Maikyau stated that the NBA would conduct investigation and, if necessary, commence disciplinary actions through the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee against them.

He said the Chairman of the NBA Ethics and Disciplinary Committee has been directed to invite the counsel for preliminary investigations.

Referencing Sheikh Othman Dan Fodiyo, he stated that , “A people can exist without religion, but they cannot exist without justice. Let us quit being religious as a people and begin to search for God and justice for the people, to attain the peace we all desire for the benefit of our nation.”

Barrister Leke Job, SAN, of Leke & Jones Chamber, told Business Hallmark that “the issue is part of the larger reform of the judiciary we have been clamouring for for years, the nexus between politics and the judiciary with the corrosive influence of the former on the latter must be broken, otherwise the judiciary is finished. For God sake, we are supposed to be independent, as one of the important tiers of government.”
This view was shared by Abigail Okonkwo, a lawyer. For her, “the issue of conflicting court orders is political and must not be allowed to fester. It’s not only in Kano. Of recent, we witnessed in Kogi State on the issue involving the EFCC and the former governor Yahaya Bello.”
Okonkwo’s reference to Bello’s case has also been widely talked about as one of the disgraceful outing of the judiciary since the Presidential election of 2023.

A bad example


The Bello case is another instance where the integrity of the judiciary was once again called into question, as two courts of coordinate jurisdiction gavd conflicting orders on the arrest and prosecution of former Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State.
While Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered his arrest and prosecution, another court in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from arresting him.

Justice I.A Jamil of the State High court, in Suit No HCL/68/M/2020, stopped the EFCC from arresting, harassing, intimidating and prosecuting him.
Barrister Fehintola Dada, SAN, of Harmony Chambers, a leading law outfit in Lokoja, in a telephone conversation with Business Hallmark, said that “the desire of politicians is to disrupt the separation of powers in order to realize their ambition of coming to power and retaining same by hook and crook. More importantly, they are using the judiciary, cashing in on some unscrupulous judges without principle. This a serious matter that both the National Judicial Council and the Nigeria Bar Association should look into. It’s becoming embarrassing. Look at Yahaya Bello’s case and the recent judicial macabre drama in Kano over who is the legitimate Emir of Kano.

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