Kaduna High Court recently nullified a Kaduna State government restriction of movement order placed on the deposed paramount ruler of Piriga Chiefdom, Lere Local Government of the state, His Royal Highness, Chief Jonathan Parguwa Zamuna.
Delivering judgment on the case of breach of Fundamental Rights, Honourable Justice Nasiru U. Sadiq said the banishing order runs contrary to section 41, subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which ‘states that every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom’.
A Kaduna High Court sitting in Kafanchan, had three weeks ago, nullified a similar restriction of movement order placed on the deposed traditional ruler of Arak Chiefdom in Sanga Council area, His Royal Highness, retired Brigadier General Iliya Yammah.
The court also ordered Kaduna State Government to pay Chief Yammah, 5 million Naira damages for breach of fundamental rights.
Immediate past Governor, Malam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai had on 22nd May, 2023 announced the deposition of the two paramount rulers, stating “the depositions followed recommendations from the Ministry of Local Government Affairs in line with the provisions of Section 11 of the Traditional Institutions Law No. 21 of 2021”, a statement signed by the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Hajiya Umma Ahmad, disclosed.
Reacting to the Court’s ruling, the lead Counsel to Chief Zamuna, Barrister Napoleon O. Idenala expressed satisfaction, even though dismayed that the defendants did not appear in court or counter any of the Applicant’s claims, having a High Court sitting at Kafanchan, recently declared a similar action of the government as illegal and void.
Barrister Napoleon explained further the magnitude of trauma the deposed chief suffers since the banishment order was placed on him, having lost his wife, brother and sister within a space of four months. However, he reserved comment on whether to appeal the refusal of the Court to award any damages despite claiming for 250 million naira damages, even though the court found that there was no defense and the Claimants fundamental right had been breached.
The Lead Counsel also stated further, the case the deposed Chief filed at the National lndustrial Court, sitting in Kaduna, praying the court to void his deposition and reinstate him back to his throne because the action of the government in doing so was arbitrary and without regard to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“He had filed an action at the National lndustrustrial Court sitting in Kaduna, challenging the legality of his deposition”.
“Upon his deposition, he was more or less banished to his house. Initially, the government wanted to banish him to an unknown house in Unguwan Rimi, Kaduna, which he refused. The government subsequently took him to his own house in Kaduna South and placed him literally under house arrest, by restricting his freedom of movement, with security stationed in front of his house”.
He continued; “While under house arrest, his younger brother took ill and was admitted in a hospital in Abuja. The government denied him permission to visit him and he later died in July, still, he was denied permission to see his dead body. yet, his request to attend his burial was denied and until after the burial, he received a letter from the government telling him that he can now attend the burial already done.
“After the death of his brother, his nephew also died in Sanga area, yet, he could not attend the burial”, he explained.
However, the Defendants were not in court for their response, as they did not appear in court throughout while the case was heard, and when judgment was delivered.