A Senior Councillor in the Sultanate Council of Sokoto, Alhaji Hassan Danbaba has cried out to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Walter Onnoghen to wade into an alleged perversion of justice by a judge of the Sokoto state Sharia court, Justice Umar Sifawa
In a petition addressed to the CJN, dated 24th March, Danbaba who is the grandson to the late premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, contended that Justice Sifawa had made a mockery of the entire shariah court system in sokoto state in a matter between him and the All progressive congress (APC) national vice chairman North -West , Alhaji Umar Abdulkadir.
Danbaba who holds the title of Magajin Garin Sokoto thereby demanded the immediate probe of Justice Sifawa and his consequent dismissal from service for allegedly voilating his aoth of office by acting in a bais and prejudicial mammer
The petition was preempted by Justice Sifawa’s decision on Friday last week to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of Danbaba while ruling on a motion filed by Abdulkadir who dragged Danbaba to court for alleged defamation of character.
Abdulkadir had in the suit, accused Danbaba, of describing his late father as a “slave bought by one Gwaggo, for two shillings” and that he did not take adequate care of his late mother.in a publication in August, 2016.
Danbaba , had filed a notice of appeal on the ground that the court had erred by issuing a summon on March 13 and March 22, giving him only two days to appear before it for his defence.
Danbaba had also filed a motion on notice praying for the stay of the court’s proceedings, pending the determination of his appeal at the State High Court asserted that the Sharia court breached his right to fair hearing and fair trial.
Danbaba in the petition filed on his behalf by his counsel, Mr Yusuf Dankofa and also addressed to the Grand Khadi Sokoto state asserted that he was wrongfully served a criminal summons through a proxy to appear the Sokoto upper area sharia court to answer to some allegations leveled against him by Abdulkadir.
He recalled that upon reciept of the summon, he filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the propriety of the summon as a gross voilation of section 36 (6) of the 1999 constitution as amended which provides that every person charged with criminal offence shall be entitled to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence.
Recalling that his counsel were in the court on the 16th of March to argue the preliminary objection, he insisted that since he was not served personally, the Sharia court had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter.
He said notwithstanding the fact that the presiding judge was not on seat to take the matter on that day, he recalled how there were flagrant abuse of court processes in spite the fact that he took a new date of 30th of March from the sharia court registrar.
According to him: “Upon our client instruction, we filed a notice of appeal in the criminal appeal section of the High court of Justice Sokoto to further challenge certain acts of gross irregularities of the lower courts and we joined the court as second respondemt and all the respondents were subsequently served.
“On the 22 of March we further filed a stay of proceedings in the lower courts pending appeal and the return date for the arguments on all pending applications was 30 March 2017.”
Danbaba expressed dismay that the case was retroactively back dated from the return date of 30th March to 24th March without any service on him or his counsel inspite the fact they have a functional address in Sokoto.
He noted: “Sir without fair hearing, the court sat and out of manifest bias issued a bench warrant against our client when the judge knew that there were pending applications challenging his jurisdiction and that a date had already been given by the court for all parties to appear. Sir you will agree with me that the judge acted with a partial and prejudiced perspective by refusing to consider the merits of the cause before him.”
Making reference to several judicial pronouncements, he thereby contended that such act was against the principles of fair hearing and natural justice.
The petition was also addressed to the Chief Judge of Sokoto state, the state commissioner of police, and the Secretary to the Sokoto State Judicial service commission.
Justice Sifawa had adjourned the case till April 6 after granting the order to the Sokoto State police commissioner for the arrest of Danbaba wherever he is found in Nigeria, pending further instructions by his court.