Lawyers for the dethroned emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, one of Nigeria’s most influential Muslim and traditional leaders, have demanded he be released from detention.
“We call on the authorities, in particular the Inspector General, the Director General of Department State Services and Attorney General of the federation and Minister of Justice to ensure the immediate release of HH Muhammadu Sanusi II so that he can be reunited with his family,” the lawyers’ statement, signed by Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, said.
The lawyers said they considered the dismissal of the emir by the authorities in the northern state of Kano on Monday to be illegal and unconstitutional.
Mr Sanusi himself, who was deposed for “insubordination”, had said in a video message that he accepts it as the will of God.
But he is challenging his detention in a “remote part” of the central state of Nasarawa.
“We understand the choice of location to detain HH Muhammadu Sanusi II was intended to cause maximum trauma and distress. This again is illegal and unconstitutional,” his lawyers said.
After his dismissal, the lawyers said Mr Sanusi had asked to go to the southern city of Lagos, where he had organised for his family to go, but the authorities refused to let him do so.
The lawyers are also challenging a tradition that expects Mr Sansui to live in exile outside the emirate of Kano for the rest of his life.
“The archaic practice of banishment of deposed emirs, a colonial practice has no basis under Nigerian law or the constitution. We are totally perplexed at the resort to this practice in present day Nigeria by its political leaders,” their statement said.
“We are directed to take legal action to challenge the legality of the emir’s detention and banishment.”
Mr Sanusi was Nigeria’s central bank chief before he became the emir of Kano in the mainly Muslim north.
He was seen as a reformist and had been critical of some government policies – a stance that frequently put him at loggerheads with ruling politicians. -BBC