UPDATED: El-Rufai leads Sanusi, family out of Nasarawa

Nasir El-Rufai and Muhammadu Sanusi II
Nasir El-Rufai and Muhammadu Sanusi II - Former emir being driven out of Awe in Nasarawa

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has led the former Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi; his mother, Saudatu Hussein, and his three children out of Awe, Nasarawa State.

They left the community at about 4p.m for Abuja, where PREMIUM TIMES exclusively learnt they would be flown to Lagos to meet other members of his family.

Mr. El-Rufai, who arrived Awe at about 12:46p.m, joined Mr. Sanusi to observe Jumuat congregational prayer where the latter gave a 30-minute sermon on forgiveness, perseverance and holding trust in God as giver and taker of everything.

The former emir delivered his sermon both in Arabic and Hausa languages, before he led the prayer.

Mr. Sanusi had on Monday been dethroned by the Governor of Kano State, Umar Ganduje, who accused the former emir of disrespecting constituted authorities by not taking part in the state’s official activities.

The removal of the emir and his banishment to Awe in Nasarawa State had attracted widespread condemnation from many Nigerians including the founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Atedo Peterside.

Mr. Peterside declined to attend the roundtable organised on Wednesday by the Central Bank of Nigeria citing the banishment of Mr. Sanusi as his reason for doing so. He said such disregard for laws and human rights are part of disincentives to investing in the system.

Earlier, hours after Mr. Sanusi’s removal, the Kaduna State Government had announced his appointment into both its investment agency and as the governing council chairman of the state-owned Kaduna State University.

El-Rufai’s visit to Sanusi

The Kaduna State governor had earlier planned to visit Mr Sanusi on Thursday but was barred by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who said the governor’s visit could spark crisis.

Mr El-Rufai had also notified his Nasarawa State counterpart, Abdullahi Sule, who welcomed the idea.

However, sources at both the Nasarawa State government house and the police headquarters in Abuja confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the police chief had warned Mr. El-Rufai not to make the trip, “and that if he did, he would be blocked.”

While Mr El-Rufai had insisted he would visit his friend on Monday, a meeting he attended at the villa ran till late in the evening.

“The development had discouraged the governor from visiting Awe again on Thursday and we were told to be prepared for the journey today,” an aide of the Kaduna governor said.

When contacted on why the police chief took such stance, the spokesperson for the Nigerian police, Frank Mba, said he was not aware of such development, and that except his service is required on such matter by the IG, he could not comment.

According to Mr. Mba, both the governor and the police chief are not just senior citizens but also friends and brothers.

“So whenever the duo want to talk, it would be a private discussion, and my own involvement would only amount to meddlesomeness,” Mr. Mba said.

Meanwhile, shortly before the governor reached Awe, the Federal High Court in Abuja, had ordered the release of the deposed emir from the illegal post-dethronement detention and confinement imposed on him by the Kano State Government.

The court gave the order pending the determination of the case.

Mr Sanusi had on Thursday filed an application, asking the court to order his release.

The suit, filed on Thursday, was brought pursuant to section 34, 35, 40, 41 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution and Order 4 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court

Mr Sanusi asked for, “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 Motion.”

Upon granting the above request, the former Central Bank Governor(CBN) also urged the court to make, “An order granting leave to the Applicant to effect service of this order alongside the originating motion and subsequent processes” on all the respondents.

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the Director-General of the State Security Services(SSS), Yusuf Bichi; Attorney General of Kano State and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; are the first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

Premised on eight grounds, the suit stated that, “Applicant’s fundamental right to life, human dignity, personal liberty and moverment are seriously under challenge and continually being breached by the Respondents.”

At the commencement of the case on Friday, the team of lawyers led by Lateef Fagbemi, in urging the court to grant their request, said the health of the applicant is a subject of concern.

Mr Fagbemi said, “before the pronouncement of the kano state government deposing the applicant, the palace of the applicant was already evaded by the first and second respondents.”

The lawyer further said that there is no criminal proceeding pending against the applicant and “the applicant has offered not to go to Kano until the determination of the originating sermon.”

Ruling on the application on Friday, the judge, Anwuli Chikere, granted prayers one and two respectively.

She further held that the respondents are to be served the originating summon within five days and the respondents to reply within five days.

Justice Chikere adjourned to March 26.

In court to witness the day’s proceedings was the ousted emir’s sister, Zainab Sanusi, and his daughter, Khadija Sanusi.

El-Rufai speaks

During his four-hour stay in Awe, Governor El-Rufai said he was in the state to meet his childhood friend, and that his decision to take Mr Sanusi out of the town was backed by the court order.

Mr El-Rufai said based on the order, Mr Sanusi is free to move to anywhere in the world “including Kano State.”

He said, “In Kaduna, we honour our traditional rulers because they are the custodians of our cultural values. We rever and respect them.

“So, apart from being my childhood friend, traditional rulers deserve our respect.”

A statement by the Kaduna State Government later on Friday suggested Mr Sanusi had gotten over his removal.

‘’His Highness seems to have taken all that happened in his stride but has reiterated his commitment to enforce his fundamental human rights,‘’ the statement, which was signed by Muyiwa Adekeye, Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the governor, said.

Mr Sanusi, his mother and the three children who were with him in Awe, drove in the same vehicle with Mr El-Rufai as they moved from the community to Abuja airport enroute Lagos.

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