JUSTICE Amiru Sanusi of the Supreme Court, who turned 70 on February 2, 2020, took a retrospective look at his journey through life and recalled how he narrowly escaped imprisonment and death.
Justice Sanusi, whom a valedictory court session held in his honour on February 3, sequence to retirement from the Supreme Court, recalled how he narrowly escaped being imprisoned at age 13 and how providence saved him from being assassinated while serving as a High Court judge.
He spoke in Abuja at the valedictory court session witnessed by dignitaries, his professional colleagues, friends, associates and family members.
Justice Sanusi, who hails from Funtua, Kastina State, became a judge after serving as the state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. According to him, he almost got imprisoned few days after his father’s death in 1963.
He recalled that he was conscripted, 10 days after his father’s death, to serve as census enumerator with another young boy, whom he shared accommodation with in Dutsi district of the state.
Justice Sanusi said while he and the young boy were strolling around the community to familiarise themselves with their new environment, his colleague misplaced the £3 allowance paid to each of them.
He said although he volunteered to share his £3 with his colleague, he was later arrested and accused of stealing his colleague’s money.
Justice Sanusi said: “Later in the night a native authority policeman was sent to our accommodation and he started calling my name. I woke up and identified myself, he then instructed me to follow him along with my bag to the Alkali’s house.
“On reaching the house, the judge ordered the policeman to search me and my bag and insisted that I should bring out my colleague’s money.
“I told him that I did not take his money and that what I had with me was only my own stipend, which I was paid that afternoon. They counted it, but the Alkali (Native Court judge) insisted that I was the one who stole the money.
“He sent the policeman to go and call the Prison Warder. He ordered that I should be taken to prison because, according to him, I would confess to having stolen the money.
“Having observed earlier the nature of the prison lock-up in the evening when going to the town square, I burst into tears.
“As God would have it, just when I was about to be taken to the lock-up, a small girl, of about four years old, ran out from the AlkalI’s house and said in Hausa language: Baba an gane kudin kurma ne, ya tsinta a bakin rijiya ka gansu nan a fankun ashana.’ Meaning: ‘Daddy, the money has been recovered, look at it here in the matchbox. It was the deaf who picked this money at the well.’
“The Native Court judge and everybody around was perturbed to hear that. The said kurma or deaf was the house boy of the judge, who used to fetch water for the family and he was the one who told the wife that he picked the money at the well.
“That was how God used a small girl of four years old to save me from being incarcerated for an allegation of an offence that I knew nothing about. That was the first trepidation I faced at the early age of 13 years,” he said.
Justice Sanusi said the experience led him into studying Law.
“From that time, I developed an interest in reading Law and possibly, to become a lawyer or judge, so as to correct the injustice and misapplication of law that is being perpetrated by our Native Court judges.
“What kind of jungle justice would that have been, to send a 13-year old boy to prison without any proof of his guilt and, even when the truth came out, he was arrogantly unapologetic.”
The retired jurist said while serving as a High Court judge, he was doubling as the Chairman, Robbery and Fire Arms Tribunal.
He recalled that although the job was very challenging, it was equally very dangerous because many attempts were made to assassinate him.
Justice Sanusi said the most deadly of such attempts on his life was that plotted by some detained robbery suspects, who had the support of prison warden, whose employment, he incidentally, aided years earlier.
“On a Wednesday I went to Dutsinma town on court axis. On my return to Katsina, I was informed that my Chief Judge wanted to see me urgently.
“When I went to him, he informed me that there was a plan by some robbery suspects to escape from prison to go to my house and kill me.
“He advised that I should not sleep in my house on that day. It was gathered that there were seven robbery suspects in a cell.
“The wife of one of them supplied them with saws which they used in cutting the iron bars at night and used black cellotapes to cover the place cut in the iron rod.
“The robbery suspects, seven in number, were brought out on that Wednesday morning to go and take bath. One of them stayed behind and told the escort warder that he wanted to see the officer in charge of the prison, who reluctantly obliged him.
“The robbery suspect went and revealed the plan and he was asked to put his complaint in writing and which was copied to me.
“They planned to escape on the night of that day. The wife (of one of the suspects) was to provide a pistol and a vehicle to carry them to my house.
“A named prison wander was to bring acid in a gallon which would be used in pouring on the prison warders at the gate before opening the gate for them to escape. Incidentally, I was the one who got the job for that particular prison warder.
“Plain cloth policemen were detailed to hide around the spot where the pick-up vehicle was to be parked for the conveyance of the robbery suspect after their escape and arrested those in that vehicle and recovered the gun.
“Also the prison warder was arrested with a gallon containing acid to be used in facilitating the jailbreak when he reported for duty on that night. The suspect who revealed the plan is from Cross Rivers State and was popularly known in the prison as Calabar man.
“In his complaint, he gave a detailed address of my house, both in Katsina and in my home town. That was how God used a Calabar man to save my life,” Justice Sanusi said.