Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The cobwebs of legal theatrics against the reinstatement of Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo as Emir of Gwandu continued, on Monday, in Abuja, where the Supreme Court adjourned proceedings in the appeal filed by the sitting Emir, Alhaji Muhammad Bashar, to February 5, 2019.
Before the apex court are two appeals lodged by the Governor of Kebbi State and the present Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Bashar, challenging the judgment of both the state High Court and the Sokoto judicial division of the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal, in Sokoto, on April 14, 2016 reaffirmed the decision of the Kebbi State High Court, which reinstated the deposed Jokolo as Emir of Gwandu.
The appellate court also ordered that all his salaries and entitlements for the 10 years he was out of office be paid to him as ordered by the high court.
In a unanimous judgment, the three judges of the court led by Justice Tunde Awotoye, held that the deposition of Jokolo by the then governor contravened Sections 6 and 7 of the Chiefs Appointment and Deposition Law of the state.
“It was because the governor neither made an inquiry into the allegation against the emir nor consulted the state’s Council of Chiefs before arriving at his decision.
“The former governor’s action had contradicted Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The deposed emir was not given a fair hearing before he was dethroned and as such the decision was null and void,’’ the court held.
The judge ordered the reinstatement of Jokolo and the payment of his 10 years salaries and entitlements.
Not satisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the present Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Bashar and the Kebbi State Government, approached the apex court with separate appeals challenging the judgment of both courts.
In the case of Bashar, he is urging the apex court to set aside the decision of the lower court, adding that he was legitimately appointed as Emir of Gwandu, after Jokolo was deposed by the state government.
Bashar had averred that the process of deposing an emir was enshrined in the state’s legal framework, adding that Jokolo’s deposition followed due process.
When the appeal came up yesterday, the court presided by Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad granted an application moved by lead senior counsel to the present Emir [Bashar], Yunus Ustaz [SAN], for leave to raise fresh issues of law and to file an amended notice of appeal against the judgment of the Sokoto judicial division of the Court of Appeal delivered on April 14, 2016.
Other Justices on the five-man panel include, Justices Olukayode Ariwoola; Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun and Amina Augie.
The court also granted Bashar’s application to file additional grounds of appeal and his brief of arguments to encompass arguments on the issues formulated from the amended notice of appeal.
The apex court further granted an order deeming the proposed appellant’s brief of arguments as properly filed and served.
However, Ustaz told the court that the motion seeking the consolidation of the two appeals was not ready and was accordingly adjourned to February 5, 2019.
The court equally granted the application by the Kebbi State Government, moved by its counsel, Yakubu Maikyau [SAN] for an extension of time to cross- appeal the judgment of the Court of Appeal as well as leave to raise fresh issues in the appeal.
Although, counsel to Jokolo, Samson Audu did not opposed to the applications, he was not comfortable with adjourning the motions for the consolidation of the appeals.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Jokolo, who was present in court, told journalists that he was not desperate about the Emirship stool even as he lamented over the protracted delays.