by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
A Kaduna State High Court sitting in Kafanchan, on Monday, nullified the “restriction of movement” order placed by Kaduna State Government on the traditional ruler of Arak Chiefdom, His Royal Highness, retired Brigadier General Iliya Yammah.
The court also ordered Kaduna State Government pay Chief Yammah N5 million as damages for breach of fundamental rights.
Our correspondent reported that the State Government had barred Gen Yammah from entering Arak Chiefdom, following his removal in May, in line with Section 11(3) of the Kaduna State Traditional Institution Law 2021.
The provisions of Section 11(3) of the aforementioned law provide that where a Chief or an Emir is deposed, he can only access his domain upon the approval of security agencies.
However, Yammah through his lead counsel, Garba Pwul (SAN), had argued that restricting his client 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.
In his ruling on the matter, Judge John Ambi 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.”
Barr. 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.
“The constitution is abundantly clear that where any law is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, such a law is null and avoid to the extent of its inconsistency,” he ruled.
Accordingly, the court awarded N5m damages to the applicant as against N200m he prayed the court for breach of his fundamental right.
The presiding judge, however, refused the prayer for an order compelling the respondents to tender public apology to the applicant in two national dailies.
In a swift reaction after the ruling, Garba Pwul (SAN), lead counsel for the applicant, said the judgment was a demonstration of the role of the judiciary as the ‘last hope of the common man.’
“The judgment is a sound one. The judge has demonstrated courage, which is exemplary. The applicant can now freely access his domain and relate with his family and also go to his farmlands.
“I hope that, from this judgment, the Kaduna State Government will learn to treat citizens – including traditional rulers – with decorum and rule of law in their mind,” he added. On his part, the State Counsel, Alex Aku, said the government will study the judgment of the court before deciding the next line of action.