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Cablegate: Kano Kingmaker Sues to Overturn Firing, Dragging A

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

201141Z Aug 04

UNCLAS ABUJA 001441

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV NI
SUBJECT: KANO KINGMAKER SUES TO OVERTURN FIRING, DRAGGING A
TRADITIONAL INSTITUTION INTO COURT FOR THE FIRST TIME


1. Summary. A member of the Kano kingmaking council,
dismissed by the Emir of Kano, has challenged the Emir's
decision in court. The kingmaking council is a group of
senior advisors to a traditional ruler, charged with
selecting a new king after a death or retirement. This is
the first time a traditional institution has been taken to
court and could signify a future trend. At the very least,
it is disturbing the historical equilibrium of the
traditional structures. End Summary.

2. Aminu Babba Dan-Agundi has gone into history as the
first traditional ruler to challenge the decision of the
Kano Emirate Council in a court of civil law. He is
challenging his dismissal as District Head of Gabasawa, and
as Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta, one of the Kano Kingmakers.
Apart from serving as senior advisers to the emir and
members of the Emirate Council, kingmakers select a new emir
whenever a vacancy exists. The number and composition of
kingmakers differ from one emirate to another, ranging
between five and eight.

3. Dan-Agundi was first suspended, and then removed at the
end of 2003 by the Emir of Kano. Dan-Agundi subsequently
sued the Emirate Council in January 2004, after last-minute
reconciliatory moves by prominent Kano citizens failed to
produce results. The legal battle still continues at the
Kano High Court, presided over by Justice Saka.

4. Dan-Agundi was removed as District Head of Gabasawa last
year for "insubordination and high-handedness" against the
Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero, and the Emirate Council that he
heads. Bayero is one of the most respectable Muslim
traditional rulers in Nigeria. Recently, however, Bayero's
influence and authority were challenged by his subjects for
being too close to President Obasanjo and the ruling
People's Democratic Party (PDP). Bayero was booed at a
public function last year by irate youths for paying a
courtesy call on the President shortly after Obasanjo was
declared the winner of the 2003 elections, which were marred
by significant irregularities.

5. Dan-Agundi's action has serious implications for the
future of the emirate system in Nigeria. It is the first
time a title-holder, who is expected to show absolute
obedience and respect to the traditional establishment, has
turn against the system. By tradition, an emir cannot be
challenged by his subjects, especially by someone that is
directly related to the royal family. If Dan-Agundi wins
his case against the emir, the emirate council would be
considered a corporate entity that can be sued like any
other. Also, the myths surrounding the throne--and
especially the personality of Emir of Kano Ado Bayero,
previously regarded as a towering spiritual and political
leader within and outside Kano--would be punctured and
demystified. Clearly, the respect he had been commanding is
waning.

6. The current legal battle would also encourage internal
rebellion against the emirate system. Title-holders who are
not satisfied by the actions of their traditional leader in
any emirate would be able to go to court.

7. Comment. Making the traditional system subject to
Nigeria's legal system will be a victory for the rule of law
and constitutionality. A situation in which the public has
been unable to challenge arbitrary decisions of traditional
rulers would no longer be accepted. In Nigeria, where the
personalities are stronger than the institutions, a legal
victory against powerful elements like a serving emir would
certainly open a door for ordinary citizens to challenge the
actions of their leaders. End Comment.

CAMPBELL

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