The banishment of the deposed Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to Awe in Nasarawa State, by the Kano State government, has been declared unlawful and unconstitutional.
Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court in Abuja has held that the restrictions placed on Sanusi after his deposition on March 9, 2020, on allegations of insubordination are a clear arbitrary violation of his right to freedom of movement and personal liberty granted by the Nigerian constitution.
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, through his counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, had filed a fundamental human rights suit challenging his forced movement out of Kano, to Abuja and later to Awe, in Nasarawa State against his wish and in contravention of his right to freedom of movement and association.
The judge held that the right to freedom of liberty and personal dignity granted under section-34 of Nigeria’s constitution cannot be taken away as done by the Kano government, Police and the DSS except with an express order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Court therefore voided the arrest, detention, harassment and banishment of Sanusi to Abuja and later to Nasarawa State and set it aside on grounds of being an infringement on his fundamental human rights.
An Emirates Chieftain law of Kano State which empowers a governor to restrict or banish any deposed traditional ruler was also voided on account of being illegal, unlawful having run into conflict with provisions of the 1999 constitution.
Justice Chikere agreed with Lateef Fagbemi SAN that the country’s constitution is the supreme law and that any law which runs contrary to its provisions must not be allowed by any law court to stand or have its way or effect on any Nigerian citizen.
“There is no provision in Nigeria’s supreme law that where a person is dethroned, he should be banished to another place without his consent.
“Every Nigerian citizen must be treated with dignity except where such citizen commits a capital offence.
An order of perpetual injunction restraining the three respondents, their agents and any other deriving authority from the Federal Republic of Nigeria was granted in favour of Sanusi against his investigation, arrest, harassment and any form of ill treatment.
A sum of N10 million was also awarded to the former Emir as damages to be paid to him by the respondents.
The court also issued an order directing the respondents to tender a public apology to Sanusi to be published in two major national dailies for the embarrassment caused him in the course of breaching his fundamental human rights.
“This is not a chieftaincy matter. The applicant (Sanusi) is not challenging the respondents’ action as regards his removal as Emir of Kano, but the way he was bundled to Abuja and banished to a remote location,” Fagbemi told the court.
Counsel to the IGP, Victor Okoye, had faulted the competence of the suit and queried the Abuja court’s jurisdiction to hear it.
Okoye, in challenging the jurisdiction of the court, noted that the instrument conveying the ex-Emir’s banishment was authored and endorsed by an official of the Kano State Government in Kano State.
He argued that the appropriate venue for Sanusi to seek redress for the alleged violation of his rights was a court in Kano State.
Okoye had urged the court to either strike the case out or dismiss it.