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Kano emirate: 7 controversies trailing Justice Liman

The injunction issued by a judge of the Federal High Court in Kano, Justice Abdullahi Mohammed Liman, restraining the Kano State Government from reinstating Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Emir of Kano is only one of the many controversies he has faced.

In this piece, John Chuks Azu, head of Daily Trust legal desk, chronicled seven controversies faced by Justice Liman.


Justice Liman had on May 24 made an order restraining Governor Abba Yusuf from enforcing the Kano State Emirate Council Repeal Law, 2019 passed by the state assembly that would see the reinstatement of His Highness Sanusi II.

The order followed an ex parte application filed by Alhaji Aminu Babba Dan Agundi, the Sarkin Dawaki of the Kano Emirate.

The order created a stalemate in the restoration of the new emir in the palace between Emir Sanusi and the deposed Emir Ado Bayero.

The order became a subject of debate as to whether the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit being a chieftaincy matter that is only for state high courts after Governor Abba Yusuf vowed to petition the judge for delivering a ruling while in the US.


On May 16, the National Judicial Council (NJC) announced the promotion of 22 judges to the Court of Appeal with Justice Liman as number five on the list. The council promoted him after dismissing the petition against Justice Liman and 34 other judges on allegations of judicial misconduct.

The NJC, in a statement by the Director of Information, Soji Oye said, “Petition against various judges were dismissed for lack of merit, evidence of misconduct, subjudice or that they were matters that could be appealed.”


Justice Liman’s order of April 18 which halted the suspension of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Abdullahi Ganduje, drew criticism because it was issued despite an earlier high court order which upheld it. A faction of the party filed the suit because of bribery allegation against the former Kano State governor.


Justice Liman had on July 8, 2023,  restrained the Kano Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission and other security agencies from harassing, arresting, inviting or detaining Ganduje. The order followed the move by the state government to investigate the governor following a 2018 video which allegedly captured Ganduje stuffing bundles of dollar notes from a contractor into his B Babanriga.

He had said the order would remain effective until the hearing and determination of the substantive originating motion.


In 2022, the candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP) in the Edo State 2020 governorship election, Peters Osawaru Omoragbon, publicly accused Justice Liman of “misconduct and dereliction of duty.”

Omoragbon initiated a case before Liman’s court in Edo State in May 2020 against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and a ruling was subsequently fixed for December of the same year but was not delivered one year after.

Omoragbon issued a statement accusing Justice Liman of dereliction of duty in its case against INEC and the Attorney General of the Federation over the Edo State governorship election filed on May 5, 2020, and which was not heard until 13, 2020.


Justice Liman was among the judges whose residence was raided by the Department of State Services (DSS) over corruption allegations in 2016. Although then governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, mobilised to prevent the judge’s arrest, the DSS alleged it recovered $2m cash at his Port Harcourt residence.

Responding, the judge said he had never seen such an amount as he would have resigned from the job if he had.


In April 2015, Justice Liman who was at a High Court in Edo presided over a corruption case involving Michael Igbinedion, younger brother to a former governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbinedion, who was facing money laundering charges worth N25 billion. Patrick Eboigbodin, who was an aide of ex-Governor Igbinedion, was Michael Igbinedion’s co-defendant in the matter.

He convicted Michael Igbinedion over three counts out of the 81-count charge preferred against him by prosecutors from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and asked to pay a fine of N1 million for each of the three counts rather than spend two years in jail.

However, Justice Liman denied Eboigbodin the option of a fine after finding him guilty on 10 counts. Not only was he sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, the judge further ordered him to pay a compulsory fine of N250,000.

His conviction stirred reactions about why a principal defendant was given the option of a fine that a co-defendant was not given.

Justice Liman, 65, has been a judge since July 28, 2000. The judge who was elevated to the Court of Appeal hails from Nasarawa State.