REVEALED: How Dangote saved Sanusi from being dethroned

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•The beginning of Emir Sanusi’s ordeals
•Accused of destroying artefacts inherited
from past emirs
•Deserted by contemporaries, ACF, governors

By Abdulmumin Murtala, Kano

Sir Muhammadu Sanusi I (1905-1990 ), the grandfather of the present Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II reigned for only five years as Emir of Kano before he was forced to resign. He was said not to be in the good books of the authorities of the day due to his views which were considered offensive. He was perceived to be too independent minded by the political authorities and a web of intrigues were weaved around him in order to remove him as Emir. In the course of his reign, a panel was set up to investigate alleged misappropriation of the then Kano Native Authority’s funds and the Emir alongside other members of the Native Authority were made to testify before the commission with D.J.M Muffet as sole commissioner.

the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido II departing after a closed-door meeting with Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo at the VP’s Wing, Presiidential Villa, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

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At the end of the inquiry, Muffet in his report advised the Regional Government that Sir Muhammadu Sanusi I should resign. He therefore tendered his resignation to the Governor of the Northern Region, Sir Kashim Ibrahim on 28th of March 1963.

It will appear that the present Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is facing same circumstances. He has made some salient points on the economy and some policies Governor Ganduje sees as offensive.

As a successful banker and risk manager with track records in the industry, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, now Muhammadu Sanusi II, became the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from where he later mounted the throne as the Emir of Kano after being suspended from office as CBN governor by the then Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan when he alleged that $20b was missing from the treasury.

The power elites in Kano state then, led by the Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, who has now also turned into a political adversary of Governor Ganduje, despite public resistance by the public, were clearly instrumental in the selection of Sanusi II as the 14th Emir of Kano. He was turbaned on 8th of June 2014 after the death of his grand uncle and 13th Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero 1930-2014.

Sanusi’s ‘sins’

Sanusi II is known for his criticisms on matters of social and economic development in Kano and Nigeria at large, offering advice and suggestions even when they seem to be displeasing to the political powers especially on the Girl Child Education and issues on family planning. His ordeals with the Kano state governor dated back to 2017.

In one of such bold reactions on   government plans in April 2017 Sanusi II challenged the Kano state governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje while delivering a keynote address at a function in Kaduna, on the governor’s plan to secure a loan of $1.85b from a Chinese Development Bank that would fund 85% of a Light Rail project to be constructed by a Chinese company CR18G-CRECG. The project was for the construction of a 74 kilometer facility in the state with the intention of reducing traffic on the roads and to ease commercial activities.

Rubbishing the plan, Sanusi II said that the plan to build the Light Rail project was built on a shaky foundation. He said, “we have governors, they go to China and spend one month on a tour and come back with MoU on debts.

“China will lend you $1.8b to build light rail. This light rail will be done by workers from China, the trains will come from China, the engines will come from China, the labor will come from China while the driver is Chinese.

“At the end of the day, what do you benefit from them? Your citizens will ride on a train and when you ride on a train in northern Nigeria, in a state like Kano or Katsina, where are you going to? You are not going to industrial estate to work. You are not going to school. You are not going to the farm. You borrow money from China to invest in trains so that your citizens can ride on them to go for weddings and naming ceremonies.”

This did not go down well with the political powers in the state and in a swift reaction, the State House of Assembly accused Sanusi II of spreading false information against Governor Ganduje on his trip to China. He was also accused of spending the funds of the Emirate without the approval of the governor or the House of Assembly. As a result, a probe was established with a view to indicting him and subsequently dethroning him.

Also, Emir Sanusi II was accused of not supporting Ganduje but seen to have soft spot for the opposition candidate in the last general election that was declared inconclusive in Kano by the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

It was clear that Sanusi II was going to have problems with Governor Ganduje. On the day INEC declared Governor Ganduje winner of the inconclusive election, the APC supporters trooped to the Government House Kano to celebrate with the governor. In the course of the wild celebration they chanted songs calling for the removal of Sanusi II saying; “Tsohon gwamna sabon sarki” meaning “we support the incumbent governor and want a new Emir”. They didn’t stop there, they went to the Coronation House where the governor addressed them and they destroyed portraits and pictures of Emir Sanusi II.

However, Sanusi II managed to survive with the intervention of some dignitaries in the country among whom were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Sultan of Sokoto and former Presidents Ibrahim Babangida and Abubakar Abdulsalam. Following this intervention, the State Assembly as well as the Public Complaints and Anti-Graft Commission closed the case.

In a swift reaction, Sanusi II had no choice than to apologize to Governor Ganduje at a grand reception he organized in his honor at his palace asking him to be a forgiving leader.

Creation of new Emirates

Thereafter, the state government in a political move meant to cut Emir Sanusi II to size by creating four new Emirates of the same first class status as his as well as indict him for alleged misappropriation of funds in order to dethrone him. The State House of Assembly would, on one hand, ensure that the powerful Emirate was broken into five Emirates of the same status while, on the other hand, the State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission would reopen an earlier probe on the issue of the Emirates funds.

With this plan in place a petition by some legal practitioners in the state led by Mr Salisu Ibrahim called on the state Assembly to create four new Emirates by amending the Emirate law thereby cutting down the size of the Kano Emirate and revisiting history to upgrade some old chiefdoms. The assembly immediately consented and adopted it. Four additional first class Emirate Councils were then created by the Assembly within 48 hours in Karaye, Rano, Bichi and Gaya making Kano the fifth. Out of the former 43 local government areas under the Kano Emirate, only 10 are now under it in the new arrangement.

As the Assembly was deliberating on the Bill, the state governor revealed to newsmen that he would sign it to law as soon as it gets to his table. Subsequently the Assembly passed the amendment into law and the governor assented to it thereby making it the fastest law ever in this part of the country.

This action was however not without opposition from some concerned Kano citizens

A member of the royal house stated that Ganduje had erred by involving the institution of the Emirate arguing that the governor should have limited his action to Sanusi II by simply dethroning him and not breaking the Kano Emirate into five

Other concerned Kano citizens then went ahead to institute a suit against the move by the state Assembly. Ruling in an ex parte motion dated May 10, 2019, being Friday, and filed by Hon. Sule Gwarzo, Justice Nasiru Saminu restrained Governor Ganduje, Kano House of Assembly, the Speaker, Clerk of the Assembly, the Attorney General and the state Printer from implementing the division of Kano into five Emirates.

In an order of interim injunction, the court directed all the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.

It was not clear if this order was   served on the parties concerned on Friday and Governor Ganduje went ahead to make appointments. He then issued staff of office to the newly appointed Emirs in the new Emirates at the weekend, while he received the court order on Tuesday, four days after.

Alhaji Ibrahim AbdulKadir was appointed as Emir of Gaya, Alhaji Tafida Abubakar Ila as Emir of Rano, Dr. Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar II as Emir of Karaye while the son of the late Emir Ado Bayero, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero was appointed as the Emir of Bichi.

On the other hand, the corruption charges were still on. The former Personal Secretary of Emir Sanusi II, Isah Bayero is among those to be quizzed by the panel even as as he is now seen as a strong supporter of the moves by Governor Ganduje to unseat Emir Sanusi.

Isah was said to have evidence which would be used by investigators to prosecute the Emir who is charged with spending N6b without the consent of the state government or the Assembly. Some structures in palace were said to have been modernized by destroying the artifacts inherited from past Emirs.

Dangote’s intervention saves Emir

Interestingly, there was no intervention from the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Sultan of Sokoto, other state governors or the Presidency on the matter. Sanusi II was therefore left to himself.

However, the business tycoon Aliko Dangote was said to have been the only one who, from the beginning pleaded with Governor Ganduje not to remove the Emir but Ganduje insisted.

Sources from government said the governor gave Dangote some conditions which must be met in order to save the Emir since the Emir would not stop criticising the government.

The source said “Governor Ganduje’s response was that he told Dangote to go back and tell the Emir that he should choose from three alternatives: to resign on his own, to be removed from office or for the government to create additional Emirates in the state. Ganduje assured Dangote that one of the three options would be implemented by government since the Emir would not stop playing partisan politics. But for the quick intervention by Dangote, Ganduje would have dethroned the Emir”, the source revealed.

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