By Yemi Olakitan
The news hit the headlines like a thunderbolt, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the 14th Emir of Kano had been dethroned on March 9th, 2020 by the Governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje.
An economist and banker who served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 to 2014, Sanusi was once suspended by former President Goodluck Jonathan after he raised the alarm on the $20 billion NNPC scandal.
There is indeed something about the style of Lamido Sanusi that the people in power find unsettling.
According to Special Adviser to the Governor of Kano state, Salihu Yakasi, one of the reasons Sanusi was deposed was his frequent public criticisms of the government of Governor Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano state. Yakassi said no one in power could condone such public criticisms.
“The deposed Emir had access to the Governor and could advise him on any issue but the Emir chose public podiums and stages as his means of advising the Governor. At every given opportunity, he dished out criticisms.
“You can portray it as political or whatever but the question is no one would allow such an act of insubordination to continue. Since the creation of the new Emirates by Governor Ganduje, you can count the number of important events organised by the state government including international events which the Emir was invited and never attended.
“I can tell you that the Emir did not even attend the free and compulsory Basic Education Programme in the state launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. People are free to say what they want to say but this is the reason for the dethronement,” he said.
Reports reveal that conservatives in northern Nigeria didn’t find Sanusi’s social criticisms funny. The deposed Emir once said that Sharia was not divine but religious, and was neither uniform nor unchanging. He has called for an end to child marriage, (a practice that is still prevalent in the north), building of more schools instead of mosques.
Sanusi has also called for population planning, insisting that polygamy is increasing poverty in the region. The deposed emir also said, widespread poverty in the north might put end to Islam as we know it.
A highly educated man, Sanusi has a degree in Sharia and Islamic studies from the International University of Africa in Khartoum, in 1997 among other qualifications. He has spoken out on government policies on several occasions, breaking out with royal tradition.
In 2017, the Emirate council was under investigation for corruption. Many saw this as retribution over comments he made. The investigation was later called off by the state legislature following intervention by the ruling class.
In 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje signed into law the creation of four new emirates. This unprecedented move saw Sanusi’s traditional domain as Emir reduced. According to the law, Sanusi will only preside over 10 Local Government Areas out of the 44 in the state. Many saw this as the beginning of Sanusi’s dethronement.
The legal team of Mallam Mohamodu Sanusi II, organised a Press briefing on what they called, The team declared the dethronement illegal and unconstitutional. According to the team, the Kano state Emirate Council law which was recently enacted does not give the state Governor the power to unilaterally dethrone a an Emir.
“The reason given in the letter of deposition of the Emir dated 9th March, 2020, was alleged ‘disrespect to lawful instructions from the authorities’. The Emir was also alleged to have ‘refused to attend official programmes and meetings organized by the Government’.
“As far as we are aware, there has not been any notice of such disrespect ever given to the Emir or query issued to him for refusal to attend official functions. He was never given any opportunity to defend himself against those charges. Section 13 of the Kano Emirates Council Law 2019 cited in the letter of deposition empowers the Governor to depose an Emir only after due inquiry and in consultation with State Council of Chiefs.
“We are not aware of such due inquiry nor are we aware that the Kano State Council of Chiefs was at any time summoned to any meeting much less discuss the removal of the Emir or give any advice to the Governor on the deposition. In our view the action was patently illegal and unconstitutional and a clear abuse of power. Be that as it may, the decision to challenge the removal is solely that of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II.
In a statement, Publisher and veteran Journalist, Dele Momodu said, “The last time Sanusi was kicked out of the Central Bank, he became the Emir of Kano, who knows where God is taking him to next. God’s ways are truly mysterious.”