The simmering crisis surrounding the Kano Emirate took a dramatic turn this week as the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, intervened to address conflicting court orders that have sown confusion over the legitimate authority in the ancient northern kingdom.

Ariwoola has summoned the Chief Judges of the Federal High Court and the Kano State High Court to appear before him regarding the contradictory interim injunctions each court issued recently regarding the rival claims of the two main contenders for the throne.

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CJN Summons Judges Over Conflicting Orders
CJN Summons Judges Over Conflicting Orders

The conflicting orders relate to the long-running tussle between the incumbent Emir Aminu Ado Bayero, who ascended to the throne in 2020 after his predecessor Muhammadu Sanusi II was dethroned, and Sanusi’s supporters who have challenged Bayero’s legitimacy through the courts.

In a ruling earlier this week, Justice S.A. Amobeda of the Federal High Court in Kano granted an interim order confirming Bayero as the rightful 15th Emir of Kano and restraining authorities from evicting him from the palace or curtailing his privileges and powers. The order reinforced Bayero’s claim as endorsed by the Kano State government.

However, in a countervailing order, Justice Amina Adamu Aliyu of the Kano State High Court issued an injunction protecting the interests of the deposed Emir Sanusi and his key loyalists. Her order barred the state government from harassing or intimidating Sanusi’s camp or confiscating important symbols of the emirate’s authority like the royal twin spear, hat, and robe.

With the two high-profile courts staking out diametrically opposing positions through their dueling injunctions, the crisis has descended into a legal quagmire raising concerns over preserving law and order in the commercial hub of Kano.

The CJN’s decision to urgently summon the Chief Judges suggests growing unease within the apex judiciary over the potential for the crisis to intensify if the contradictory rulings are allowed to persist.

Sources indicate Ariwoola is expected to read the riot act to the judges and impress upon them the need to issue harmonized rulings to avoid sowing further anarchy, or potentially order a judicial transfer of the cases to another jurisdiction.

The crisis erupted in early 2020 when the former Emir Sanusi, a prominent but polarizing reformist figure, was abruptly dethroned by the Kano State government after a long-running feud over his outspoken views and attempts to challenge the state’s control over the emirate’s affairs.

Sanusi’s removal sparked protests by his supporters who accused the government of trampling over tradition. He has launched multiple legal challenges seeking reinstatement as Emir, even as the state recognizes Bayero as his successor.

With the crisis spawning a litany of court cases across different jurisdictions, fears have arisen over the potential for social unrest and conflict if the legal wrangling is not decisively settled soon.

The CJN’s intervention is being seen as a pivotal moment that could finally chart a course towards a judicial resolution, if the top judges can be prevailed upon to harmonize their positions and rulings. However, the centuries-old struggle over the soul of the ancient Kano Emirate shows no signs of abating anytime soon.