By Abdulaziz Salisu
A senior councillor in the Sultanate Council of Sokoto, Hassan Danbaba, has petitioned the chief justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, to wade into an alleged perversion of justice by a judge of the Sokoto state Sharia court, Umar Sifawa.
On Friday the Sharia court judge issued a bench warrant for the arrest of Mr Danbaba in a ruling on a motion filed by the national vice chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, North-West, Inuwa Abdulkadir.
Mr Abdulkadir had dragged Mr Danbaba, a grandson to the late premier of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello, to court for alleged defamation of character after DAILY NIGERIAN published a leaked letter he (Dababa) addressed to the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal on December 31, 2016.
In the letter, Mr Danbaba had described Mr Abdulkadir’s late father as a slave bought by one Gwaggo, for two shillings, and that his mother died as a cook in primary school.
But in the petition addressed to the CJN, dated March 24, Mr Danbaba contended that Mr Sifawa had made a mockery of the entire Shariah court system in Sokoto state in a matter between him and Mr Abdulkadir.
Mr Danbaba who holds the title of Magajin Garin Sokoto thereby demanded the immediate probe and dismissal of Justice Sifawa from service for alleged violation his oath of office by acting in a bias and prejudicial manner.
The senior councillor 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.
Mr 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, asserting that the Sharia court breached his right to fair hearing and fair trial.
The traditional ruler, in the petition filed on his behalf by his counsel, Yusuf Dankofa and also addressed to the Grand Khadi Sokoto state, said that he was wrongfully served a criminal summons through a proxy to appear before the Sokoto upper area sharia court to answer some allegations leveled against him by Mr Abdulkadir.
He recalled that upon receipt of the summon, he filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the propriety of the summon as a gross violation 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 said there were flagrant abuse of court processes in spite the fact that he took a new date of March 30 from the sharia court registrar.
Mr Danbaba expressed dismay that the case was back dated from the return date of March 30 to March 24 without any service on him or his counsel despite the fact they have a functional address in Sokoto.