Hearing begins today, 12 SANs lead Sanusi’s freedom battle

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The deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, on Thursday instituted a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order for his release from the post-dethronement detention and confinement.

On Thursday the former Emir’s preliminary ex parte application seeking an interim order for his release had  been assigned to Justice Anwuli Chikere.

Barring any last-minute development, the judge will hear the ex parte application on Friday, our correspondent learnt.

The Kano  State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on Monday deposed Sanusi because of what the state government called “total disrespect  to lawful instructions from the office of the state government.”

On Monday, the dethroned monarch  was  banished to Loko, a remote location in Nasarawa State. On Tuesday,  he was  relocated  to Awe, where he is currently being detained in a guest house.

But Sanusi’s  team of lawyers led by Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) on Thursday filed a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/357/2020 before the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge his banishment and continued detention in Awe by security agencies.

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The respondents to the application are, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; the Attorney-General of Kano State, Ibrahim Muktar, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

In the application, which is a prelude to the main suit, the deposed monarch  specifically prayed for an interim order for the restoration of his rights to human dignity, personal liberty, freedom of association, and movement around Nigeria, apart from Kano State, pending the hearing and determination of his main suit.

“An interim order of this honourable court releasing the applicant from the detention and or confinement of the respondents and restoring the applicant’s rights to human dignity, personal liberty, freedom of association and movement in Nigeria, (apart from Kano State) pending the hearing and determination of the applicant’s originating summons,” the prayer read in part.

Alleging a breach of their client’s rights provided under sections 34,35, 40, 41 and 46 of the Nigerian Constitution, Sanusi’s legal team comprising 12 Senior Advocates of Nigeria, contended, “the applicant’s fundamental right to life, human dignity, personal liberty and movement are seriously under challenge and continually being breached by the respondents.”

The battery of SANs comprises, Fagbemi;  Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi;  a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud;  Adeniyi Akintola, the incumbent NBA President, Paul Usoro; Ifedayo Adedipe, Dr. Garba Tetengi, Suraj Sa’eda, Funke Aboyade, Nesser Dangiri, Ernest Ojukwu, and H.O. Afolabi.

In addition to the interim order, the lawyers sought an order granting leave to the applicant to serve the order to be issued by the court and the main suit on the four respondents through substituted means.

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He prayed for an order permitting him to deliver the processes meant for the IGP to any officer in his office at the police headquarters at Louis Edet House, Garki, Abuja, the ones for the DG DSS to any officer at the DSS headquarters at Aso Drive in Abuja, the ones for the AG of Kano State to any officer at state’s Ministry of Justice, Audu Bako Secretariat, Kano, and the ones for the AGF to any officer at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja.

His grounds for the application are, “The applicant’s originating motion and all other processes were filed on March 12, 2020.

“Considering the status of the respondents, it would be difficult to effect personal service on the first second and third respondents (IGP, DG of DSS), unless this application is granted.

“First, second and third respondents will have knowledge of the originating motion for the enforcement of the applicant’s fundamental right, if they are served by substituted means as stated on the motion paper.

“There is an urgent need to grant this application so that service can be promptly effected on the first, second and third respondents.

“Applicant’s fundamental rights to life, human dignity, personal liberty and movement are seriously under challenge and continually being breached by the respondents.”

Nasarawa Gov, Emirs visit Sanusi in Awe

There were reports earlier on Thursday that the deposed monarch had left Awe for Lagos. But an aide of Sanusi and one of his lawyers, who confided in The PUNCH, said the deposed monarch was still in Awe.

One of our correspondents reported that the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule and some traditional rulers in the state met with Sanusi on Thursday evening in Awe.

The governor, who arrived at 5pm  with the Emir of Lafia, Justice Sidi Dauda Bage, met with the former Kano monarch.

Our correspondent gathered that the governor alongside Bage and the Emir of Awe, Alhaji Isa Umar II, spent about one hour with Sanusi. The visitors were said to have left Sanusi’s residence by 6:15 pm. An aide to the governor confirmed the visit to The PUNCH.

Some of the security chiefs in the governor’s convoy were the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Bola Longe;   representatives of 177 Guard Battalion from Shittu Alao Barracks, Keffi; the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Some family members of deposed monarch also visited him.

There were reports earlier on Thursday that the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, would visit the deposed monarch in Awe after a meeting of the power sector reform committee in Abuja.

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But an aide to the governor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said El-Rufai did not go to Awe again. “He did not go there because the meeting (power sector reform committee meeting) did not end on time.”

UNIZIK defers award for dethroned Sanusi

In a related development,  the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, on Thursday deferred the award of a doctorate earlier approved for the deposed Emir of Kano.

The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Charles Esimone, announced the deferment of the award during the 14th  convocation ceremony of the university. Esimone said the deferment was due to prevailing circumstances in the country.

Soyinka hits Ganduje, says Sanusi a reformer

Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, on Thursday berated Ganduje, saying he lacked friends who could have prevailed on him to save himself before dethroning and banishing Sanusi.

The playwright stated this in a statement titled, “For whom the gates open wide’ following Monday’s dethronement of Sanusi and his banishment to Nasarawa State by the state government.

The Nobel laureate described Sanusi as one of the greatest reformers of the feudal order.

Soyinka recalled a similar scenario which he said nearly played out in his home state, Ogun, some years ago, when a governor wanted to dethrone and banish a monarch before his (the governor’s) friends keenly appealed to him to reconsider the action.

He said, “His office was invaded by some of the panicked chiefs and stalwarts of Ogun State who rushed to ward off the impending order. One of them stopped at my home after the pacification session to narrate what had transpired, and how some of them had actually gone on their knees to plead with that governor to stay action.

“I was furious. I knew every detail of that affair, had listened to a recording of the speech that was supposed to have given this mighty offence. It was pure piffle.

“Why did you people plead with him? Don’t you realise you were making him feel a god? You should have let him carry on, then we would see what a cataclysm he had launched on the state!’

“The man, an independent businessman of absolute integrity, and one of that governor’s intimate circle, smiled and said, “No, we couldn’t do that. We are his friends. We were pleading with him to save him from himself.”

“What a pity Ganduje lacked friends who could have saved him from himself! Insofar as one can acknowledge certain valued elements in traditional institutions, the man he thinks he has humiliated has demonstrated that he is one of the greatest reformers even of the feudal order.’’

The social critic further said these were depressing times–stemming from different factors of course–for a large sector of the nation.

“Insecurity, economy in a coma, a leadership in name only, having vanished into ether, permanently AWOL in a time of serial crisis. No wonder mimic and debased forms of leadership assertiveness rush in to fill the vacuum! The latest in the stakes of such power appropriation makes one wonder which is the more reactionary order: the so-called feudal institution, or the self-vaunting modernised governance whose apex can bring the feudal to heel quite arbitrarily, without check and without seeming consequence. To rub pepper in the wound, the protagonist of that “progressive” order enjoys near-absolute immunity, thus, even when it has disgraced its status and violated its oath of office, caught literally with its pants down in open defecation, it can still pretend to act in the interest of progress, modernity and public well being.  Such are the ironies raised by the purported dethronement of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, with one stroke of a pen!,’’ he said.

Describing Sanusi as a one-man EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) sanitisations squad in the banking system taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution, Soyinka stated that he trod on the interests of powerful beneficiaries of a worm-infested sector and, in the process, created permanent enemies.

He added that Sanusi sounded much aware of the impending fall of the axe of vengefulness and power primitivism when they spoke via phone in London during his visit.

He stated that though uncertain, he had a feeling that the palace gates of the Kano emirate were not yet definitively slammed against Sanusi.

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Soyinka said, “It is just a feeling. Closed and bared, or merely shut however, the doors of enlightened society remains wide open to Muhammadu Sanusi. As for his current crowing nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.”