An order by former Governor Nasir El-Rufai banishing the paramount ruler of Piriga Chiefdom in Lere Local Government Area of Kaduna state, Chief Jonathan Parguwa Zamuna has been declared null and void by a High Court in Kaduna.
Delivering judgement on the case of breach of fundamental rights, Justice Nasiru U. Sadiq of the Kaduna High Court sitting in Kafanchan, said the banishing order runs contrary to section 41, subsection 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to the Judge, the Constitution which stated 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.’
The Court had three weeks ago, nullified similar restriction of movement order placed on the deposed traditional ruler of Arak Chiefdom in Sanga Local Government Area, Brigadier General Iliya Yammah (Rtd)
The court also ordered Kaduna state government to pay Chief Yammah N5 million damages for breach of fundamental rights.
On May 22, 2023, the immediate past governor of Kaduna State, el-Rufai announced the deposition of the two paramount rulers, stating that “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.”
The deposition was contained in.a statement signed by the then Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Hajiya Umma Ahmad.
While reacting to the Court’s ruling, the lead counsel to Chief Zamuna, Napoleon O. Idenala expressed satisfaction, even though he was 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.
Napoleon lamented the magnitude of trauma the deposed chief suffered since the banishment order was placed on him. He said the monarch lost his wife, brother and sister within a space of four months.
He, however, reserved comment on whether to appeal the refusal of the Court to award damages despite claiming for N250 million damages, even though the court found that there was no defence and the claimant’s fundamental right had been breached.
“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 literary under house arrest, by restricting his freedom of movement, with security stationed in front of his house.”
“While under house arrest, his younger brother took ill and was admitted in the Hospital in Abuja; the government denied him permission to visit him; when he later died 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 that 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 said.
The defendants were, however, not in court for there response, as they did not appear in court through out while the case was heard, to when judgement was delivered.