Opinion

El-Rufai: The repulsive misdeed of correcting injustice with injustice, By Nasir Aminu

Access Bank

Strange as it may seem, no amount of learning can cure stupidity, and formal education positively fortifies it. – Stephen Vizinczey

…in the absence of justice, an act of high misdeed like this should call for action from the State House of Assembly, because it is an impeachable offence. We should not forget that in 2008, the National Assembly declared El-Rufai unfit to hold any public office within a democracy. The surprise is how he was allowed to still pick the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) despite the ban.

Governor El-Rufai has controversially appointed, and coronated Ambassador Bamalli as the new emir of Zazzau. The refusal to observe due process in selecting the new emir has led to a lawsuit. The Governor has also succeeded in pitching the Zazzau ruling houses against each other.

In his coronation speech, he claimed to be privileged to be the first elected public servant to appoint an emir of Zazzau. Like a twenty-first century tyrant, he then threatened decisive action against those who show no loyalty to the new emir. Democracy is a system in which no one person has the absolute power govern, meaning that every independent office must follow the law. El-Rufai ‘refused’ to follow the law in appointing the new emir of Zazzau.

Historically, El-Rufai has always been a divisive leader, and that was one of the reasons why the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) disinvited him from appearing at their 2020 conference. El-Rufai’s inability to work according to the law led him to read several books and demand countless hours of interpretation of the law from several professionals. The pending lawsuit is based on the action taken against the Kaduna State Chiefs (Appointment and Disposition) Law section 3(1), which states that: upon the death of any chief… the Governor may appoint as the successor of such chief any person selected in that behalf by those entitled by the customs and practice to select in accordance with customary law and practice.

For clarity, the law permits the governor to appoint only the person selected by the kingmakers, and not who he likes. Therefore, acting contrary to the law and with a sense of impunity distorts and diminishes the sacred role of the kingmakers, which in turn essentially subverts the traditional institution that we adore. If recognised kingmakers cannot select an emir, then I suggest the emirate to change their job titles. The custom of selecting the emir by the kingmakers is through a sacred process, and violating this process demonstrates a lack of respect for the institution.

In his speech, the governor claimed that it is God who gave him the privilege to correct the injustice done to the Mallawa dynasty. And that Emir Alu Dan-Sidi (1903-1920) was removed from the throne by the then British colonial governor for violating the laws of the land, including engaging in slavery. Thus, with the governor’s wrongful appointment of his relative, to him all wrongs are corrected, while the colonial government is exonerated. For me, the partisanship that El-Rufai claims to detest, cannot be more evident and starker than through that act.

…El-Rufai said he wants to return to the enduring principles that guided the appointment of emirs under the Sokoto Caliphate. He should know that the revered kingmakers then never deviated from the selection principles. He can make a case for his distorted action, but that will not change the truth in the eyes of God and the court of law.

If we are to start correcting unjust removals, then El-Rufai should consider fixing a few other injustices. Emir Kwasau (1897-1903), from the Bare-bari clan, was removed by the colonial government only to appoint Emir Alu Dan-Sidi in his stead. Emir Sambo, from the Katsinawa dynasty, was also unjustly removed by the Sultan.

The governor also appealed for sympathy for the Mallawa dynasty, given that they had not moved near the throne for about 100 years. If the governor is truly God-sent, then he should be more sympathetic to the Sullubawa dynasty, which has not being within the reckoning of ascending the throne in over 160 years. The one and only representative of the Sullubawa dynasty, Abdulsalami (1860-1863), was killed on the throne and not dethroned. I am also interested in knowing how he would correct the injustice meted to the Habe, who have lost the throne since the coming of the Fulani rulers in 1804.

If the governor has truly read the books (for example, Smith, 1960) he claims to have read, he would have realised that the Katsinawa dynasty spent 73 years without being on the throne. During that time, there were six emirs, with five of them from the Bare-bari dynasty. In fact, in 1937, all the applicants for the throne were from the Bare-bari dynasty. At no point in time did any of the other dynasties try to bypass the due process or abuse the system in any way.

In his speech, El-Rufai said he wants to return to the enduring principles that guided the appointment of emirs under the Sokoto Caliphate. He should know that the revered kingmakers then never deviated from the selection principles. He can make a case for his distorted action, but that will not change the truth in the eyes of God and the court of law.

It is the right thing to challenge this act of unfair imposition of an emir in court to correct the wrongdoing of a democratically elected governor. It is an act of public service to the people of Zazzau emirate, and service to protect our traditional heritage.

The governor claimed that his appointment is the Will of Allah and demanded the loyalty of all to the new emir. The Quran says, “And do not incline to those who are unjust, lest the Fire touch you.” The appointment of the current emir is unjust, and I speak for the princes of Zazzau, who refused to attend the coronation in protest, and all Nigerians who are against injustice. It is the self-interest of every prince of Zazzau not to allow the emirate to be ridiculed. For the sake of consistency, I hope El-Rufai will refer to the eventual ruling of the court as the Will of Allah too.

It is the right thing to challenge this act of unfair imposition of an emir in court to correct the wrongdoing of a democratically elected governor. It is an act of public service to the people of Zazzau emirate, and service to protect our traditional heritage. The new emir will not receive the loyalty of all the people of Zazzau, depite the governor’s threat. The people are ready to demonstrate the strength of their faith by resisting tyranny.

While Ambassador Bamalli has been announced as the new emir of Zazzau, and he has accepted the appointment, and the governor has crowned him, however the lawsuit challenging the process is being considered in the court of law, where it is only hoped that the governor has no power to interfere. The presence of the chief judge of Kaduna State at the coronation ceremony has sent mixed signals about the rectitude of the judiciary that he heads. Will the administration of justice be neutral and balanced in this case?

Ultimately, in the absence of justice, an act of high misdeed like this should call for action from the State House of Assembly, because it is an impeachable offence. We should not forget that in 2008, the National Assembly declared El-Rufai unfit to hold any public office within a democracy. The surprise is how he was allowed to still pick the gubernatorial ticket of the All Progressives Congress despite the ban.

The pre-trial conference begins on November 18. May justice prevail.

Nasir Aminu is a senior lecturer in Economics at the Cardiff Metropolitan University.

(The Pinch)

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