The fall of Emir Sanusi


The dethronement of Sanusi and his banishment have further exposed the extent Nigerian politicians can go in fighting their perceived enemies. It is, however, hopeful that the courts will save the apparent lone voice, campaigning for a modern and progressive northern Nigeria

By Anayo Ezugwu

IT is no longer news that the Kano State Government dethroned Muhammad Sanusi II, Emir of Kano on the pretext that he disobeyed lawful instructions from the office of the state governor and other lawful authorities. Despite the explanations offered by the main actors in the political game, the dethronement has been greeted with mixed reactions by many Nigerians, especially the fact that the traditional institution has joined the list of institutions that have been intimidated and often disgraced in the desperate attempt to force these institutions to do the bidding of the government at all times.

In the last five years, no institution of repute that is perceived to have a different opinion from that of the government has been spared.  The legislature, the judiciary had tested the same humiliation in the past and the media have not been spared. So it is not surprising that the traditional institution is next in the line.

However, the dethronement saga has raised fundamental and constitutional issues regarding the right of Sanusi to dwell anywhere in any state in the country without being expelled under any pretext, according to section 41(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria states that: “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.”

The heat, which the dethronement threw up, has showed that there is political under-turn in what happened in Kano on Monday March 9. Some school of thought believe that Sanusi’s dethronement was as a result of the alignment and re-alignment for 2023 general elections. This school of thought is of the opinion that his predicament was a northern agenda to retain power in 2023.

They believe that some political bloc in the north wants to field him as their presidential candidate in 2023. To them, Sanusi is the best man for the job. They see him as someone who will be more accepted as a candidate both in the southern and northern Nigeria because of his oratory skills and the fact that many see him as a liberal Muslim.

While another school of thought perceive Sanusi’s removal as Emir and banishment as a strategic move by some political bloc in the north to silence him and keep him away ahead of 2023. This school of thought sees the deposed Emir as an obstacle to northern agenda. They believe that his utterances on political issues may instigate the people against their choice candidate in 2023. And that he may work against them as he did in 2019 general elections both at the state and federal levels.

In all these permutations and calculations, there is a third school of thought, who believes that Sanusi’s presidency in 2023 will be an effort in futility. They believe that it will be difficult for southern Nigeria to support his candidacy because of the enemies he made during his time as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

This school of thought believes that Sanusi is among the northerners propagating northern domination in the country. They cited the role he played in declaring Oceanic Bank, Union Bank, Afribank, FinBank and Intercontinental Bank insolvent in 2009, all in a bid to reduce the domination of Southerners in the banking sector. These banks were owned and managed by Southerners. Among these five banks, only Union Bank is still functional today.

Not only declaring the banks insolvent, he also succeeded in jailing Cecilia Ibru, former CEO of the defunct Oceanic Bank. While other chief executive officers such as Erastus Akingbola of the defunct Intercontinental Bank; Okey Nwosu of FinBank, Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank and Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank, are still having their days in the law court.

As this postulations expand, Sanusi through his legal team led by Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, has sued the Inspector General of Police and director-general of the Department of State Security, DSS, over his detention. Sanusi, through his legal team led by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, filed a suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja for an order for his release from banishment. He filed the suit on Thursday, March 12. And the a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has on Friday granted an interim order releasing Sanusi from detention. The order granted by Justice Anwuli Chikere was in line with the prayers on the exparte motion filed on behalf of Sanusi by Lateef Fagbemi. The judge fixed March 26, 2020, for the hearing of the main suit challenging the detention of Sanusi.

Already, Sanusi’s supporters and political allies have accused President Muhammadu Buhari of masterminding the dethronement and banishment of the former Emir. Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano State, said Buhari was the one, who ordered the dethronement and banishment of Sanusi.

“Let me begin by saying today is a very sad day in Kano, Nigeria and by extension in the entire world because His Highness the Emir of Kano (Sanusi) is a global personality. What we have seen is very sad because there is no responsible government that is supposed to take the kind of step taken by Kano State Government by dethroning Emir Muhammad Sanusi II. But, the big issue is that, as enshrined by section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution, even if you dethrone someone as Emir, you ought to allow him to choose wherever he so pleases to stay, that is even when you follow due process to dethrone him.

“However, like people who are close to President Muhammadu Buhari often say that, the President does not intervene in disputes; that, if people are in dispute the President just keeps quiet, but we in Kano do not see him (President Muhammadu Buhari) like that; we see him like he selects where he intervenes. And where he is supposed to intervene, he doesn’t, but where he is not supposed to intervene, that is where he does,” he said.

But the presidency has denied the allegation. Garba Shehu, special assistant on media to the President, said Buahri was not involved in the dethronement of Sanusi. Shehu said through his twitter handle @GarShehu, that “President Muhammadu Buhari has no involvement whatsoever in the dethronement of HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II from the position of Emir of Kano. All such insinuations are untrue, malicious and politically motivated.

“President Buhari commends the people of Kano for keeping calm in the past few days of the dethronement announcement. They all have their powers specified under the Constitution. He prays that the will of Allah will be done at all times, and that the emirate/state and its people continue to experience progress irrespective of who is on the throne,” he tweeted.

While the Presidency and Kano State government denied their involvement in banishing Sanusi, video footages showed that state security agencies were used in the banishment process of the 14th Emir of Kano. The footages of his banishment showed that an aircraft belonging to the Nigeria Police took the Emir to Nasarawa State, where more than 40 armed policemen and Department ofState Security, DSS, are watching over him.

Before the court order on Friday, many groups have called for Sanusi’s unconditional release. The group included the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP. The group has sent an urgent complaint to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over the arbitrary detention and degrading treatment of the deposed Emir.

“The arrest and continued detention of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is an egregious violation of his human rights. The Nigerian and Kano State authorities have violated the following rights under the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international law in continuing to detain Emir Sanusi: the right to be free from arbitrary detention; the right to freedom of movement; and the right to due process of law,” SERAP said.

Despite the issues surrounding his dethronement from office, Sanusi is a controversial person. As a gadfly, Sanusi is also garrulous. His period as Emir of Kano was as controversial as the man himself. Sometimes, it seems that the man does not only thrive in controversies, but also relishes them. This could be seen in some of his actions and utterances since he became the Emir on June 8, 2014.

His actions and conduct tend to suggest that he has a penchant for courting controversies and perhaps, sometimes, feels uncomfortable when he is not being discussed. The assault on the Emir began to take shape in 2017, but was halted midway following the intervention of prominent personalities, including Aliko Dangote, business mogul, and Sa’ad Abubakar II, the Sultan of Sokoto, in 2018. To get at him, the emirate, which Sanusi headed was confronted with an allegation of financial misconduct by the State’s anti-graft agency.

Sanusi was also accused of making unguarded comments on the government’s development policy, which officials of the administration claimed to have brought the governor to disrepute. They particularly accused him of involvement in partisan politics by openly supporting a political party in the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state. There were insinuations by the All Progressives Congress, APC, that Sanusi had sympathy for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, during the elections. The allegation of pitching camp with a rival political party was what analysts considered the major grouse the governor held against the erstwhile traditional ruler.

The Speaker of the State Assembly, Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, had alluded to this in explaining why the authorities in the state were no more comfortable with the Emir. He had accused the Emir of “getting involved in political issues, the misappropriation of the Emirate Council’s funds and making statements against President Muhammadu Buhari.”

In addition, the authorities in Kano are not comfortable with Sanusi’s criticisms of their policies, actions and inactions. For instance, Sanusi took a swipe at people who indulged in child marriage and, against the practice, and polygamy if there is no money to support such. He also threatened religious and traditional leaders in his domain with sanctions if they did not stop beating their wives.

And to get back at Sanusi and reduce his enormous influence, the Kano State government split the Emirate into five. To give effect to the exercise, the governor, signed into law a bill on the appointment and deposition of emirs. The law created four new traditional institutions and emirate councils each with a substantive first class title of emir. They are Gaya, Karaye, Rano and Bichi. The emirate council was further expanded with new districts and domains under which the five independent traditional institutions would operate. Observers immediately saw the move at drastic reduction of Sanusi’s influence as a prelude to his dethronement. Events seem to have proved them right.

With his eventual removal, Sanusi has at least fulfilled his longtime ambition of becoming the Emir of Kano. Unfortunately, in trying to avenge a perceived injustice done to his clan, Sanusi also suffered the same fate like his grandfather, who was deposed as the Emir of Kano.

– Mar. 14, 2020 @ 4:45 GMT |

Click Banner for Details