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Femi Falana Challenges Jurisdiction Of Federal Courts In Chieftaincy Disputes

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Femi Falana Challenges Jurisdiction Of Federal Courts In Chieftaincy Disputes

On Tuesday, prominent human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said that the Federal High Court and the National Industrial Court lack jurisdiction over chieftaincy disputes, News About Nigeria reports.

In a statement personally signed and obtained in Abuja, Falana criticised recent decisions by these courts, arguing that they erroneously claimed jurisdiction in chieftaincy matters, contravening constitutional provisions and higher court rulings.

Falana condemned the courts’ decisions as “highly erroneous,” stating they could not be justified under sections 251 and 254(C) of the Constitution.

He said that these rulings overruled existing judgements from both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

“The Federal High Court’s intervention in the disputes involving the deposition and restoration of Emirs Ado Bayero and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a blatant disregard of the Supreme Court’s decision in Tukur v. Government of Gongola State (1987),” Falana explained.

“In that case, it was determined that the right to be an Emir is not protected under the fundamental rights provisions of the Constitution, and thus, the Federal High Court has no jurisdiction in such matters.”

He further elaborated, “The Court of Appeal has held that for a court to exercise jurisdiction under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, the primary claim must be the enforcement of fundamental rights, not an accessory claim. The jurisdiction of the court cannot be properly exercised if the main claim is not the enforcement of a fundamental right.”

Concluding his argument, Falana stated, “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.

“However, a traditional ruler who was deposed by a state governor without a fair hearing is not without legal redress.”

Falana’s comments come in the wake of a Federal High Court ruling in Kano last week, where the court claimed jurisdiction to hear a human rights violation case filed by the dethroned Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, and senior councillor, Aminu Dan’agundi, following the reinstatement of Emir Muhammad Sanusi II.

The court issued an ex-parte order preventing Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano from reinstating Sanusi until a substantive suit against the reinstatement is resolved.

The order also contested the abolishment of four emirates—Bichi, Gaya, Karaye, and Rano—under a state House of Assembly bill.

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