Casting the First Stone: Is S.H Garun-Gabbas: SAN without Sin?
By M.D Zubairu Esq.
NBA Fact-Finding Committee’s Report on NBA Dutse Branch crisis has succeeded in putting Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN and Dr Musa Aliyu, former and serving Chief Law Officers of Jigawa State in a Battle of Supremacy which may open Pandora-Box.
In this age of social media, sometimes you’ll find yourself scrolling through your social media timelines or viewing your contacts’ WhatsApp statuses. This was what happened to me a few days ago. I uploaded a status on my WhatsApp, and after that, I proceeded to view other people’s statuses. I was viewing statuses when I came across someone’s own with shocking slides. The first one read thus:
The John Aikpokpo-Martins Fact-Finding Committee ruled that “The Honourable Attorney-General of Jigawa State, Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu, Esq. abused the powers of his office and conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of a legal practitioner… “
The second one went on to say, “..that AG Jigawa State Be Warned To Stop Interfering with Affairs of NBA Dutse Branch.”
And the third one is a picture with the following quote on it:
“It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.” Thomas Sowell (Economist Social Theorist)
I instantly paused and went back to check who the uploader of these slides might be. And to my greatest surprise, it was Sani Hussaini Garun Gabbas, SAN, the former Attorney General of Jigawa State, happily celebrating a purported indictment of his successor, the present Attorney General of Jigawa State, Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu, Esq. I was literally shocked!
It is an open secret that Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN together with one judicial officer from Jigawa State who is serving in one of the Federal Courts located in one of the oil rich states are part of the people that maneuvered their ways and instigated the establishment of the NBA Fact-Finding Committee which ludicrously indicted Dr Aliyu without affording him a fair hearing and in contempt of court. The question is why are they going that?
Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN is the immediate past Attorney General of Jigawa State and he was appointed by the present Governor, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar (MON) mni during his first tenure. When Mr Badaru won for the second time, he did not reappoint Garun-Gabbas, SAN as the Attorney General of Jigawa State. Instead, he considered competence, diligence and professionalism and appointed Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu.
Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN and his sympathizers see Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu as a threat to their hegemony over the affairs of the NBA Dutse Branch, because of his integrity and strict compliance with the rule of law. They plan to use the instrumentality of the NBA to traduce Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu and have him suspended from legal practice just to embarrass the Governor of Jigawa State for not bending to their will.
Garun-Gabbas SAN has resentment against the Governor for not re-appointing him to the office of the Attorney-General of Jigawa State.
It did not come to me as a surprise when I came across a report by an online news medium that, “…Police Invite Factional Leader, Senior Lawyer over Forgery Allegation.”
Though the story did not mention the name of the senior lawyer, one Mustapha Kashim a close ally of Sani Hussaini Garun Gabbas SAN and the serving Federal Judicial Officer has volunteered and filled in the blank by circulating a copy of the complaint duly signed by the current Attorney-General of Jigawa State Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu on various WhatsApp platforms where the name of the Garun-Gabbas SAN appeared. That was when I said to myself: ‘the Attorney General is all-out to open a pandora box.’
For those who do not know the two legal giants, here are their track records for your consideration. These track records are verifiable as all are in the public domain.
It will interest you to know that Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN is someone Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu used to look up to. The reason for this is not far-fetched.
Sani Hussaini Garun Gabbas SAN was a right-hand man to Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu, former minority leader in the House of Representatives. Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu who is an elder brother to Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu.
Both Garun-Gabbas SAN and Dr Musa were Kano-based private legal practitioners and members of the NBA Kano Branch before they ascended the exalted position of Chief Law Officers in Jigawa State. Garun Gabbas SAN was once the Secretary of the Branch while Dr Musa was once a Vice Chairman of the branch.
The law firm of Garun Gabbas SAN and that of the principal of Dr Musa are both located in the same area in Kano and both of them at different times were legal practitioners under Late Aliyu Umar SAN, the former Attorney General of Kano State.
In contrast, Garun Gabbas SAN is an indigene of Malam-Madori Local Government Area and was born on January 21, 1963. He graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1987 and was called to the Bar in 1989 while Dr Musa who hails from Birnin Kudu Local Government Area, was born on December 27, 1977, and he completed his LL.B. from Bayero University Kano in 2003. He was called to the Bar in 2004. He obtained his Master’s Degree from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and a Doctorate Degree from a Malaysian University.
Now having laid a solid foundation about these highly placed individuals, I will highlight some of their activities, which are on record and can be accessed by any member of the general public, if he so wishes.
People in Jigawa State are aware of the track records and personality of both of them. Even though Dr Musa is a dark horse, Garun-Gabbas’s name is known throughout the State. The question is, between Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN and Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu, who abused the powers of his office and conducted himself in a manner unbecoming of a legal practitioner?’
To begin with, Garun-Gabbas SAN, in one of the cases he handled as Attorney General, Commissioner of Police v Yusuf Muhammad with Case No. JG/CMC/KKM/CR33/2016, a Senior Magistrate Grade I, in his ruling delivered on 16/08/2016 at page 6 alleged that learned Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN had called him on phone and intimidated him because he had cited his errand boy for contempt. And in fear of his own safety, the learned magistrate transferred the case. He wrote:
“…the Attorney-General (Sani Hussaini Garun Gabbas Esq.) has asked me on phone yesterday as to why did I commit the accused for contempt for answering a phone call in court, the Attorney General even dropped the phone out of anger. I think … to be on the safer side I have to transfer this case to another court…”
In another case, between the State vs. Isyaku Muazu (unreported) with Suit No. JDU/77C/2016, before a High Court of Justice Jigawa State, the accused jumped bail. The Court placed the accused on a bench warrant and issued a summons for his sureties to appear before the court on the next adjourned day.
On the day, the sureties appeared before the court, but they did not produce the accused.
Mr Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas, as the Hon. Attorney-General of Jigawa State, in his wisdom, stood up and addressed the court that by the powers conferred on him by section 211(1) (a) of the Constitution, he orally charged the two sureties orally for the offences of screening of offenders and resistance to arrest and escape. The court asked him whether he could charge the sureties orally before the High Court. He replied:
“I do not need an FIR from the police or leave of the court. I wish to charge the accused straight away before this court.”
He insisted that the contents of the law he accused them of breaching to be read to them directly from the penal code without particulars of the offences. The helpless sureties pleaded ‘not guilty’ and the judge adjourned the matter for hearing.
However, the learned trial judge had a rethink over the strange procedure employed by Garun-Gabbas SAN and he called on him to address the Court on the propriety of his oral charge. Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN cleared his throat and submitted that the Supreme Court in “STATE VS ILLORI (1983) 2 SC 155…” had ruled that “…Attorney-General is a law unto himself in taken decisions in matters under section…211.”
It will interest you, dear reader, to know that the Supreme Court never made such pronouncement. The Apex Court only held that the power of the Attorney General to enter noll prosequi is absolute and cannot be questioned by the Court of law. It never said the Attorney General can prepare an oral charge and direct the court’s registrar to read sections directly from the penal code for a plea to be taken.
In a single paragraph: The learned Trial Judge overruled the learned senior advocate, Attorney General, and decided that the submission of the Attorney-General was erroneous, out of context and the oral charges preferred by the learned silk AG “are bereft of compliance with both the provisions of the constitution and criminal procedure code.”
Cases of abuse of power by Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN are numerous. There was a time the Former Chief Justice of Nigeria Hon. Mr. Justice Walter S.N. Onnoghen (retired) received a complaint of misconduct against Garun-Gabbas SAN and he advised the complainant in letter Ref. No: CJN/PET/B71/S./Vol.1/142 to forward the complaint to the right forum and “is indeed concerned about the nature of the allegations you have made against the Attorney General.”
Even the factional leader of Dutse Branch, Mr Nuhu Suleiman Tafida, was once a victim of intimidation by Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas, SAN when he was Attorney General.
There are other staff in the Ministry that were victimized by the learned silk such as: Munir Mustapha, Abubakar Sadiq Jallo, Saleh Umar and Muhammad Tahir. All of them were frustrated out of the Ministry of Justice. One funny thing is that lawyers in the Dutse branch have been speculating superstitiously that whoever Garun-Gabbas SAN fights will not progress. But that is not true.
Munir Mustapha got an appointment as a Member of Judicial Service Commission, Abubakar Jallo is now a member of State House of Assembly chairing House Committee on Justice and Judiciary, Saleh Umar has set up a successful private law firm at Dutse and Muhammad Tahir is working for a donor agency.
In the absence of who to fight, the battle is now with his successor who has revolutionised the Jigawa State Ministry of Justice. He has literally changed the narratives about Jigawa State Justice Sector.
In the aspect of criminal law and administration, he championed the implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Jigawa State (ACJL) and Violence Against Person Prohibition Law, 2021 (VAPPS). At the moment, there is a Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill which he made substantial input in drafting.
When it comes to Court cases, Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu has been going to court like an ordinary lawyer in the Ministry of Justice. At the time he was in private practice, he handled the celebrated case of Ashaka Cement Plc v Asharatul Mubashshurun Investment Ltd (2016) LPELR – 40196 CA. You can check it out on Lawpavilion.
In the area of case tracking, Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu has come up with a website where cases can be tracked online without even going to the Ministry. You can visit https://www.moj.jg.gov, the website of the Ministry of Justice
As it is with most Africans, the main challenge Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu is facing is that most of the people working within the justice sector consider him to be too young to be the Chief Law Officer of the State.
What most of them do not know is the fact that Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia, the Attorney General of Jigawa State in 1999 was younger than Dr Aliyu when he was appointed the Chief Law Officer of the State. Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu is well-grounded in the area of practice and is dynamic in running the affairs of the Ministry of Justice.
It is my humble opinion that he is the best Attorney General Jigawa State has ever produced.
One thing which I want those people in the justice sector to appreciate is that a person may be younger in age but Allah (God) may bestow upon him a deeper understanding of issues more than someone who has advantage of age.
Despite the foregoing achievements, I think Dr Musa Adamu Aliyu should take things easy.
No single individual can change a system in one day. There are many challenges with the justice sector which are firmly entrenched in the system. Uprooting them will not be easy. He needs to also consider the welfare of his staff that may soften the resistance he has been facing from some of them.
He needs to change his strategy in discharging his duties. Above all, he has to be careful and watch his steps. Many people within the justice sector he stepped on their toes have malicious envy against him.
I am calling for Dr Aliyu to reflect on one of the lessons of Suratul Yusuf – “forgive and show mercy to those who offend you. So as much as you can, forgive the evil people do you. And do not look at yourself better when you do so. This will make you a more honourable person before Allah.”
M.D Zubairu Esq. writes from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja