April 15, 2024

A Kaduna State High Court sitting in Kafanchan on Monday nullified the restriction of movement placed on Brig Gen Iliya Yammah (retd), the deposed traditional ruler of Arak chiefdom.

Inside Arewa recalls that the state government had barred Yammah from entering Arak chiefdom following his removal in May 2023, in line with Section 11(3) of the Kaduna State Traditional Institution Law 2021.

The law provides that where a chief or an emir is deposed, he can only access his domain with the approval of security agencies.

Yammah, through his lead counsel, Garba Pwul, SAN, had argued that restricting his client’s entry into Arak chiefdom was a breach of his fundamental right to freedom of movement enshrined in Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Judge John Ambi, in his ruling on the matter, struck out Section 11 (3) of the Kaduna State Traditional Institution Law for being inconsistent with the provisions of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

Ambi held that the applicant’s right to freedom of movement could only be limited under conditions outlined in Section 41(2) of the 1999 Constitution, which the respondents never alluded to in their counter affidavit.

He argued: “The Constitution is abundantly clear that where any law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution, such a law is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency.”

Accordingly, the court awarded N5 million in damages to the applicant, as against the N200 million he asked for, for breach of his fundamental right.

The presiding judge, however, refused the prayer for an order compelling the respondents to tender a public apology to the applicant in two national dailies.

In a swift reaction after the ruling, Garba Pwul, lead counsel for the applicant, said the judgement was a demonstration of the role of the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.

According to him: “The judgement is a sound one. The judge has demonstrated courage, which is exemplary. The applicant can now freely access his domain, relate to his family, and also go to his farmlands.

“I hope that from this judgement, the Kaduna State government will learn to treat citizens, including traditional rulers, with decorum and the rule of law in mind.”

On his part, the state counsel, Alex Aku, said the government will study the judgement of the court before deciding the next line of action.

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