Friday, 06 December 2019 15:02

[OPINION]: Kano Emirate: Dangers of playing politics with institutions- Jibrin Ibrahim

Yesterday, the Kano State House of Assembly again passed the law which purports to create four new emirates in the State. Earlier in the week, the House of Assembly had sent the bill to stakeholders, including the Emirate’s kingmakers, for comments and there was an expectation that there would be a public hearing. It turned out to be a ruse. While people were preparing their memoranda to send to the House, they met surreptitiously and passed the Bill without discussions. It’s a very sad day as Kano citizens realised that governance had been turned into political trickery.

The Kano State High Court had just, over a week ago, dissolved the four additional emirates illegally created by the Kano government under Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. In his judgment, Justice Usman Na’Abba said the Kano State House of Assembly did not follow due process in creating the emirates. Specifically, he nullified the proceedings of the State Assembly conducted on May 6, 7 and 8, which created the new emirates. He concluded that Governor Ganduje should not have assented to the law, since its procedure was faulty. Finally, Justice Na’abba restrained the four new emirs appointed by Governor Ganduje to desist from parading themselves as first-class emirs. This should have been the end of a rather sad episode in Kano history, where a misguided governor sets out to destroy a revered institution with a 1,000-year history. Unfortunately, the response of the spokesperson of the Kano State governor to the judgement was that they would continue to recognise the illegal emirs. It was yet another sign of state governors, who believe they are above the law and can do anything they want.

Subsequently, the government submitted a new Bill to the State House of Assembly, for the creation of the same emirates that have been declared illegal. In response, Dikko and Mahmoud, the law firm representing the plaintiffs in suit No K/197/2019 (Madakin Kano & 3 Others V Speaker Kano State House of Assembly & 7 Others) before a Kano state High Court presided over by Justice A. T. Badamasi, in a letter signed on December 3 and served on the attorney general of Kano Sate on Wednesday (December 4), drew the attention of the government to the fact that the action was prejudicial, as the subject matter of the Bill under consideration is currently being litigated on in the above referred to suit. The suit in question is challenging the powers of the Kano State House of Assembly and that of the governor to make any law concerning the creation of new emirates in Kano State. The Court has therefore directed the Kano State House of Assembly to “stay further deliberation concerning the ‘Emirs (Appointment and Deposition) Amendment Bill 2019’, pending the final determination of suit No. K/197/2019”, saying the matter does not call for any urgency that would warrant jumping the gun.

I have listened to two commentaries by the respected Islamic cleric, Dahiru Bauchi, cautioning Governor Ganduje. He has drawn the attention of the governor to the fact that seeking to destroy an illustrious emirate with over 1,000 years of heritage, achievements and respect, is simply a bad outcome that should be avoided. Secondly, he drew attention to the growing enmity between royal families and clans being fanned by the governor’s action and advised that people in power should desist from the pursuit of internecine warfare. Finally, Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi argued that revered institutions are not toys people in power should play with. Rather, they should seek to leave a legacy of institution-building and peace-building, so that people would pray for, rather than curse them. Governor Ganduje should have listened to this wise counsel.

Nigeria faces numerous security threats in different parts of the country and our security forces are overstretched in trying to respond to the threats. Kano has traditionally been a very volatile State but has been relatively peaceful over the past few years. In recent times, there has been no issue that has annoyed the people of Kano as the attempt to desecrate the Emirate. Governor Ganduje appears determined to engage in action to break the peace in Kano and he should listen to wise counsel and take a lead in keeping the peace by stopping his Emirate demolition plan. There is simply too much anger, disaffection and opposition to the dismantling of the Emirate, which could lead to a breakdown of the peace.

Let us not forget that we have been on this road previously. On April 1, 1981, Governor Rimi created four new emirs that were declared to be co-equal with the emir of Kano – Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano. The emirs were becoming a crowd in the old Kano Sate, as the other emirs of second-class status, namely those of Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure were also promoted to the first class status. Abubakar Rimi then declared emirs to be “mere public servants working under the directives of their local government chairmen”. On April 7, 1981, the secretary to the Kano State government, dispatched a query to the emir. Following the query, on July 10, 1981, thugs attacked and killed 34 people and burnt organisations they felt were articulating government propaganda, including Kano Radio and the Triumph newspaper offices. The thugs searched for and assassinated Dr. Bala Mohammed, political adviser to the governor. Since the Kano Governorship Supplementary Election, the activities of thugs and violent actions have multiplied in Kano and that is not the path to follow.

Governor Ganduje has been told by so many well-wishers that Kano Emirate has an illustrious legacy whose demolition should not be carried out under his watch. I had written the governor in June telling him that it would be a terrible outcome if history holds him responsible for the destruction of Kano’s historical legacy. The Emirate has existed as a kingdom since 999AD and was absorbed into the Sokoto Caliphate, following the Jihad of 1804-1807. It has since emerged as the most influential Emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate, under the control of the Emir of Kano, traversing the entire territory that is now known as Kano State. The Emirate is a melting pot, a mosaic of diverse ethnicities and traditions within Nigeria and Africa. Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II is the 57th ruler of Kano and embodies all that history and is considered as one of the most important Muslim authority in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto. It is a religious role, but it also one that has tremendous influence as an advisory role to political authorities and also a key contributor to the delivery of justice and other public services. This state of affairs should not be destabilised by Governor Ganduje.

It is unfortunate that the governor is disrespectful of the rule of law. It would be recalled that Hon. Justice Badamasi had on May 23 restrained the governor of Kano State from taking any action or further action in the implementation of the Kano State Emirs and Deposition Amendment Law 2019, which was passed by the State House of Assembly or from doing anything that will adversely affect the kingmakers or the Emir of Kano, pending the hearing of the Interlocutory Application for Injunction. The governor disregarded the ruling and coronated the emirs. Following the judgement declaring the appointments illegal, the governor has persisted in disregarding the judiciary. The powers of governors are enshrined in law and when governors disregard judicial pronouncements, it’s their own powers that they are undermining.

Kano Emirate’s kingmakers – Madaki, Makama, Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta and Sarkin Ban Kano have argued that there is a serious risk of irreparable damage that will be done to the people of Kano if the Emirate is dismantled. They have pointed out the idea that the House of Assembly could establish new emirates is based on a fundamental misconception that the Kano Emirate itself is a creature of statute. There is no law that specifically establishes the Emirate, which exists merely as a historical fact and is recognised as part of the tradition and cultural heritage of the Kano people. The precipitate action of the House of Assembly in the hurried passage of the said law in a matter of 48 hours, with no opportunity for any public participation and the governor’s defiance of court orders in proceeding to implement and appoint new emirs despite the knowledge of the proceedings before the court and the service of the court orders, is simply wrong and unbecoming of a governor. Persisting in error after a clear court judgement just over a week ago is clearly crossing the red line. Precipitate action without due consideration is bad practice for any government.

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