Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Kano Emirate Tussle: Falana faults judgment favouring Bayero, says Federal, Industrial Courts lack jurisdiction on chieftaincy matters 

Femi Falana, a Human Rights Lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) says Federal High Court in Kano was wrong to have assumed jurisdiction to hear the case on the emirship dispute in the state.

Aminu Ado Bayero, the deposed Emir of Kano, filed a suit marked FHC/CS/190/2024, challenging his dethronement as emir.

He had anchored the suit on a breach of his fundamental rights.

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Delivering judgment on the matter, Simon Amobeda, the presiding judge, held that “the act of the governor of Kano state in directing the police to arrest the applicant without any lawful justification is a threatened breach of the fundamental right to liberty of the applicant guaranteed under section 35(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered)”.

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The judge restrained security operatives “from arresting, detaining, and harassing the applicant” and ordered the state government to pay Ado Bayero N10 million as damages.

But Falana, on Tuesday said that the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court lack the jurisdiction to adjudicate chieftaincy matters.

Falana criticised both courts for separately granting themselves jurisdiction in such cases, calling these decisions “highly erroneous” and unjustifiable under sections 251 and 254(C) of the Constitution.

He added that these rulings contradict Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judgments on the subject.

Falana referenced the Federal High Court’s involvement in disputes related to the deposition of Emir Ado Bayero and the restoration of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as a blatant disregard of the Supreme Court’s decision in the notable case of Tukur v. Government of Gongola State (1987) 4 NWLR (117) 517.

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to be an emir is not a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution, and therefore, the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction over such matters.

“The intervention of the Federal High Court in the dispute arising from the deposition of Emir Ado Bayero & Co. and the restoration of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a brazen repudiation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Tukur v. Government of Gongola State.

“The right to be Emir is not guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights provisions of the Constitution, and the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction in the matter. The Court of Appeal was not in error of law to hold that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to grant the two reliefs.”

“Section 254(C)(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, does not confer jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court to hear and determine chieftaincy matters.

“However, a traditional ruler who was deposed by a state governor without fair hearing is not without legal redress. In challenging deposition or removal from the throne, the appropriate court to seek redress is the state high court,” he said.

“In Chief Joseph Odetoye Oyeyemi v Commissioner For Local Govt., Kwara State & Ors. (1992)2 SCNJ 266, the appellant sued the defendant at the Kwara state high court where he challenged the withdrawal of his recognition as the Bale of Oro without affording him the right to make a representation. He won at the high court and lost at the court of appeal.”

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He said the decision of the appellate court was later overturned by the supreme court.

“The summary of the existing judicial authorities is that the federal high court lacks the jurisdictional competence to entertain any matter pertaining to the deposition of a traditional ruler unless the complaint is limited to his banishment or detention,” Falana said.

“In conclusion, judges and lawyers should realise that disputes arising from chieftaincy and other local matters are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the high court of each state of the federation, notwithstanding that the country is operating a distorted federal arrangement,” he said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening. 


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