Muhammadu Sanusi II, the deposed emir of Kano, has ordered his legal team to challenge his banishment by the Kano State in court.
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This was disclosed at a press conference by Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), Sanusi’s lead counsel, on Tuesday.
The Kano State Executive Council chaired by Abdullahi Ganduje, the state governor, had on Monday dethroned Sanusi for “total disrespect to the office of the governor”, among other allegations, and had initially banished him to Loko in Nasarawa State.
But Mahmoud, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), insisted that Sanusi “was never given any opportunity to defend himself against those charges”.
The senior lawyer described the dethronement as “illegal and unconstitutional” but disclosed that the former emir had not authorised his legal team to challenge the deposition.
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The former NBA President stated that he has been directed by Sanusi to challenge his banishment in court, describing the action by the Kano State government as “intended to cause maximum trauma and distress” for the former emir.
Mahmoud said: “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 the Emirs detention and banishment.
“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.”
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The senior lawyer insisted that the issue of banishment of a deposed traditional ruler has been declared illegal by a competent court of jurisdiction in Nigeria.
“The illegality of this practice was pronounced by the Nigerian Court of Appeal in Attorney General Kebbi State v. HRH 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 to Lafia in Nassarawa State and later to Obi also in Nassarawa State is most unconstitutional and illegal’.
“The basis of the denial of personal liberty are set out clearly in this section of the constitution. None applies to the case of the emir,” he said.
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Mahmoud added: “We have written to the Inspector General of Police and Director-General of DSS to ensure the immediate release of the emir or face legal action in the next 24 hours.
“We call on the authorities, in particular the Inspector General, the Director-General of Department State Services and Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to ensure the immediate release of HH Muhammadu Sanusi II so that he can be reunited with his family.
“We are concerned about the personal safety and security of HH Muhammdu Sanusi II and wish to call on all well-meaning Nigerians and the International Community to bring their influence to bear to ensure that HH Muhammadu Sanusi regains his liberty immediately and to guaranty his safety and security.
“The legal team of His Highness are working both in Kano and Abuja and unless he is released immediately, we will be taking appropriate legal action.”