By Taiye Agbaje/Abuja
Justice Anwuli Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered immediate release of deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who is currently confined to Awe town, Nasarawa State, after his banishment.
Justice Chikere, who gave the order in an ex-parte motion brought by the team of Sanusi’s lawyers, also granted the prayers to serve all the respondents through substituted means should it become impossible to personally effect the service.
The deposed emir had, on Thursday, sued the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, Mohammed Adamu and Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi, over what he called “unlawful detention/confinement.”
Also joined in the motion are the Attorney General of Kano State, Ibrahim Mukhtar and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami as 3rd and 4th respondents respectively.
Sanusi brought the application pursuant to Sections 34, 35, 40, 41 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended); Articles 5, 6. 10 and 12(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, CAP A9 LFN 2004, among others.
At the hearing of the application on Friday, Counsel to the dethroned emir, Fagbemi, thanked the court for accommodating their motion despite busy schedule.
“However, I want to apologise because by 5 O’Clock yesterday (Thursday), this suit had been taken to public domain. We don’t know how it happened,” he said.
The judge, who was quite unruffled about the media report, said: “I am sure they are here today.”
“If you are a media person, please publish what transpired in court so that you will not be sued for libel,” Chikere added.
Fagbemi, then, informed the court that they had a motion ex-parte dated March 12 and filed same day.
“It is asking for two orders,” he said.
“An interim order of this honourable court releasing the applicant from the detention and/or confinement of the respondents and restoring the applicant’s right 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 motion.
“The second leg of the application has to do with order to serve the respondents in the manner listed in (a) to (e) of the application (that is through substituted means should it become impossible to effect personal service)..
“And for such further order(s) as it pleases your lordship,” he prayed.
According to him, it is in the interest of justice to grant this application.
Fagbemi, further said the application was predicated on eight grounds and an affidavit of 22 paragraphs and one exhibit.
“There is also a written address in support.
“We also have an originating motion and we crave your indulgence to also rely on that one with affidavit.
“We rely on all these processes,” he said.
Fagbemi, who pleaded with the court to allow him make few remarks, said it was disheartening that prior to the service of the dethronement letter (Exhibit A) on Sanusi on Monday, there was an unusual presence of large number of officers of police and DSS who cordoned off the palace, causing a serious restriction on his movement in and out of the palace.
He also said Sanusi’s health in Awe where he was presently was a source of worry.
“As we speak, there is no criminal proceeding pending against the applicant,” he said.
“We urge you to grant the sister’s leg and the second leg my lord,” he said.
Justice Chikere, in the ruling, said: “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 is hereby granted.”
The judge also granted the applicant’s leave to serve a copy of the released order and the processes in relation to the substantive suit on the respondents through substituted means.
Justice Chikere allowed Sanusi to serve the defendants in the following manner: On the IGP, through any officer in his office at the police headquarters at Louis Edet House, Garki, Abuja; on the the the DG DSS, through any officer at the DSS headquarters at Aso Drive in Abuja; on the AG of Kano State, through any officer at the state’s Ministry of Justice, Audu Bako Secretariat, Kano, and on the AGF, through any officer at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja.
She ordered that the original summon should be served within three days from today, Friday.
The judge then adjourned the matter until March 26 to hear the substantive suit.
The deposed emir’s younger sister, Zainab Sanusi, who led other family members to the court, commended the judge for granting their requests in an interview with NAN.
“We are very happy with the ruling, Alhamdulillahi,” she said.
Despite the wide publicity of the case in the media, none of the respondents was represented in court.
The Kano State Government had, on Monday, announced the dethronement of the emir, but denied banishing him to Loko or Awe in Nasarawa state.