Human rights activist and senior lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, has faulted the intervention of a Federal High Court in Kano in the emirship tussle in the state.

According to the senior lawyer, the issue surrounding the appointment and removal of traditional rulers are outside the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as well as the National Industrial Court.

“The intervention of the Federal High Court in the dispute arising from the deposition of Emir Ado Bayero & co as well as the restoration of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a brazen repudiation of the decision of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Citing the case of Tukur versus Government of Gongola State (1987), Falana recalled the apex court as ruling that “The question raised in this claim is not a fundamental right question” because “the right to be Emir is not guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights provisions of the Constitution and the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction whatever in the matter. The Court of Appeal was therefore not in error of law to hold that the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction to grant the two reliefs.”

He further submitted that since the apex court has said that the right to be an emir is not a fundamental right under chapter four of the Constitution, the Federal High Court sitting in Kano ought to have declined jurisdiction to continue to entertain the dispute over the chieftaincy matter in Kano.

He added that the allegation of infringement of the fundamental rights of the applicants is an ancillary claim to the substantive reliefs emanating from the deposition and reinstatement of the embattled emirs.

Further according to him, “In FCMB Plc v Nyama (2014) LPELR-23973 AT 19-20, the Court of Appeal held that: “Now it is settled that where an application is made under the fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, a condition precedent to the exercise of the court’s jurisdiction is that the enforcement of fundamental rights of the securing of enforcement thereof should be the main claim and not the accessory claim.

“Where the main or principal claim is not the enforcement of fundamental right, the jurisdiction of the court cannot be properly exercised under Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules.”

Similarly, the senior lawyer also faulted the intervention last week of the National Industrial Court in the case of Jonathan Paragua Zamuna versus the Governor of Kaduna State & Another in suit No: NICN/KD/13/2023, wherein the court held that the deposition of the claimant as a traditional ruler was illegal and ordered his immediate reinstatement.

 Falana observed that in justifying the jurisdiction of the court to determine the case, the presiding Judge, Alkali J. held that “the payment of the monthly salary to Jonathan Zamuna upon his appointment as the chief of Piriga Chiefdom or as an officer in the public service of Kaduna State who received salaries from the coffer of the State Government of Kaduna State brings the termination of his appointment to the realm of the jurisdiction of the court.

“I submit, with profound respect, that Section 254(C)(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended has not conferred jurisdiction on the National Industrial Court to hear and determine chieftaincy matters.

“Section 254C (1) (k) of the Constitution provides that the National Industrial Court shall have jurisdiction in matters relating to or connected with dispute arising from payment or non-payment of salaries, wages, pensions, gratuities, allowances, benefits and any other entitlement of any employee, worker, political office holder, judicial officer or any civil or public servant in any part of the federation and matters incidental thereto”, he said.”

Falana in addition argued that the deposition of a traditional ruler cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to be connected with a “dispute arising from the entitlement of an employee, worker, political office holder, judicial officer or any civil or public servant in any part of the federation and matters incidental thereto. The payment of stipend to a traditional ruler by a state government cannot turn him into an employee or a public officer”, he added.

He however noted that the only time the court can entertain such matters is when the complaint is limited to his banishment or detention, as in the case between Sanusi Lamido Sanusi versus Attorney-General of Kano State & Ors (Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/357/2020), wherein the Federal High Court declared illegal and unconstitutional the banishment of the applicant to Nasarawa State by the Governor of Kano State.

“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.

“Therefore, having regards to the facts and circumstances of the controversial decisions of the Fed