Zazzau In Turmoil Over New Emir As Legal Battles Begin

Zazzau In Turmoil Over New Emir As Legal Battles Begin
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Dauda Ismail

Ever since the appointment of the new Emir of Zazzau, the emirate has been experiencing uneasy calm. After the death of Alhaji Shehu Idris who reigned for 45 years and died at the age of 84 on September 20, by tradition, a new emir is expected to emerge from any one of the four ruling houses of the emirate – Katsinawa, Mallawa, Bare-bari and Sullubawa.

Mr Idris was from the Katsinawa ruling house.

Those being mentioned as front line contenders to the throne were the Iyan Zazzau, Bashir Aminu; Yeriman Zazzau, Munir Ja’afaru; Magajin Garin Zazzau, Ahmed Bamalli and Turakin Zazzau, Aminu Idris.

Five kingmakers – Wazirin Zazzau, Ibrahim Aminu; Makama Karami, Muhammad Abbas; Fagachin Zazzau, Umar Muhammad; Limamin Juma’a, Dalhatu Kasim and Limamin Kona Muhammad Aliyu, were expected to submit a shortlist to the Kaduna State Government from where the state governor, Nasir el’Rufai was expected to make a choice.

Reports revealed that El-Rufai and the Emirate’s kingmakers had allegedly disagreed on selecting a replacement for the former Emir, the late Shehu Idris, who died on September 20 in Kaduna.

Recall that kingmakers of Zazzau Emirate recommended three princes to El-Rufai as possible successors barely a week after the demise of Alhaji Idris as the 18th Fulani Emir of Zazzau, but the governor dumped the kingmakers’ recommendation and ordered a fresh process, in which he asked them to screen all the 13 interested candidates for the throne. The directive drew criticisms by those who interpreted the move as a ploy to pave way for a preferred aspirant among the contenders.

It was learnt the kingmakers, after re-screening the applicants, repeated their initial recommendation of Alhaji Bashar Aminu (Iyan Zazzau), Alhaji Munir Ja’afaru, (Yariman Zazzau) and Alhaji Aminu Idris (Turakin Zazzau) possible choices.

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El-Rufai dropped a hint of an ongoing plan to amend the Emirate and Chieftaincy Law of the State, a development that seemed like a confirmation of the plan to split the emirate into three.

It was then reported that a draft executive bill for the amendment of Emirates and Chieftaincy Law was already being prepared. The bill is seeking to split the emirate into three, namely; Kaduna Emirate, Zaria Emirate and Kudan Emirate. The current Zazzau Emirate comprises of 11 local government areas, including Zaria, Sabon Gari, Giwa, Kudan, Makarfi, Ikara, Kubau, Soba, Igabi, Kaduna North and Kaduna South.

Giving the hint of an amendment of the law during the presentation of the N237.52 billion as 2021 Appropriation Bill for the consideration of the House of Assembly, the governor said the executive will be proposing a Chieftaincy and Traditional Councils Bill among others to be sent to the Assembly soon.

However, after other candidates were eliminated, the race was narrowed down to the Yeriman Zazzau, Munir Ja’afaru and the Magajin Gari, Ahmed Bamalli. The two are from Barebari and Mallawa ruling houses, respectively. The battle appeared to be between the 66-year-old Mr Ja’afaru and 54-year-old Mr Bamalli, with each presenting ample credentials.

While Mr Ja’afaru is considered close to President Muhammadu Buhari and well-connected among political and business elite, Mr Bamalli is a close associate of Governor El-Rufai and a distant relative. Mr El-Rufai has distant blood relations with the Mallawa clan.

An immediate past Nigerian ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar, Mr Bamalli, a descendent of the late Emir Aliyu Dan-Sidi, is the closest Zazzau prince to the powers-that-be in Kaduna. He was appointed ambassador in 2017 at the instance of Mr El-Rufai who had earlier appointed him commissioner in the State Independent Electoral Commission.

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But while traditional institutions in the north were said to be backing Mr Ja’afaru for the position, Mr Bamalli’s strongest support from the cycle is from his long-time friend, the deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, who flew into Nigeria from the UK immediately after Mr Idris’s death in what some watchers believed was a move to closely put pressure on the governor to pick Mr Bamalli for the position.

However, a prince of Zazzau Emirate, Bashari Aminu who holds the title of Iyan Zazzau, and was ranked first in an initial shortlist submitted to Governor Nasir El-Rufai by the five kingmakers of the emirate has gone to court to challenge the appointment of Ahmed Bamalli as the new emir of Zazzau. The suit was filed at the Kaduna State High Court.

In the court filings signed by Yunus Usman, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Aminu sued Mr El-Rufai and nine others seeking to quash Mr Bamalli’s appointment. The suit seeks 10 reliefs from the court. Apart from Messrs El-Rufai and Bamalli, Mr Aminu also joined the Kaduna State Attorney General, Kaduna Council of Chiefs, Zazzau Emirate Council and the five kingmakers as parties to the suit. Mr Aminu wants the court to declare the appointment as “irregular, illegal, unconstitutional, unjust inequitable and contrary to good conscience, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

He also asked the court to declare that he was “duly and properly selected/elected and appointed as the Emir of Zazzau (Zaria) by the traditional kingmakers of Zazzau in accordance with Zazzau Native Law, Custom and Tradition.” He also prayed the court to validate the selection process of the Zazzau kingmakers which placed him ahead of two other princes and excluded Mr Bamalli from the shortlist.

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He argues that the appointment of Mr Bamalli contravened Chiefs (Appointment and Depositions) Law Cap 21 of 1991.

He also wants the court to bar Mr Bamalli from declaring himself as the emir of Zazzau and to stop the state government from proceeding with Mr Bamalli’s coronation as the Zazzau emir.

In paragraph 9 of the statement of claim, Mr. Aminu posited that, “On September 21, 2020, the Wazirin Zazzau and senior counselor to Zazzau emirate (Alhaji Ibrahim Muhamad Aminu) on behalf of the emirate council wrote informing the Secretary to the State Government of Kaduna State of the demise of the Emir of Zazzau and further intimating the government of Kaduna State to the effect that the stool of the Emir of Zazzau had become vacant. (A copy of the said letter is hereby pleaded and the ecretary to Kaduna State Government is hereby given notice to produce the original of the letter at the trial of this suit)”.

Efforts to get reactions from the state government on the matter were futile as of the time of going to press as none of the official communications links went through.


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