The Noose Around Emir Sanusi

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The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II appeared to have talked himself into trouble when he chose to confront the northern establishment. As it tightens the noose around him, the fate of the outspoken emir now hangs in the balance, writes Godwin Etakibuebe

It began with the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation of the Kano Emirate Council over allegation of misappropriation of N6 billion. While the probe continued, those that are well entrenched in Kano politics knew that the exercise was all about the highly respected Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II than the Emirate Council.

This much became manifest when the Kano State House of Assembly, on May 10th 2017, set up an eight-man committee to “investigate the allegations levelled against the emir, bordering on misconduct and alleged misappropriation of funds belonging to the Kano Emirate Council”. The probe committee of the State House of Assembly, being superior, terminated the functions of the State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission against the emirate automatically.

The Chairman of the latter (Muhuyi Magaji) tactically complained about the usurpation of his agency’s function when he said that “the agency has achieved 80 per cent success into the investigation of alleged misapplication of N6 billion by the Kano Emirate Council before the House of Assembly took the matter over”. He added quickly that “the commission had also recorded a water-tight case against the emirate council over the allegations of financial misappropriation and we have also identified our primary suspect in the course of the investigation”. Take note of the language used – ‘our primary suspect’, and not suspects. That obviously pointed to one individual.

The enthusiasm with which Kano State government functionaries were falling over themselves on this matter is an indication the probe is targeted at one person who must be punished. The person being targeted couldn’t have been any one else but the Emir of Kano himself. While the probe of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission was ostensibly directed at the Emirate Council for alleged ‘misapplication of N6 billion’ without mentioning the emir’s name, the State House of Assembly was specifically set up to “investigate the allegations levelled against the Emir of Kano, Mallam Muhammad Sanusi II”. The phrase, ‘our primary suspect’ used by Muhuyi Magaji earlier had also been narrowed to an individual – the emir.

The Honourable Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, while constituting the probe panel, did not bring any allegation against the emirate council but instead levelled several allegations against the emir directly. Some of the allegations are listed below for our collective evaluation, bearing in mind the seriousness of each of these allegations, it will be safe to conclude that the emir is most likely on a long journey to dereliction if found guilty of any of the allegations: misappropriation of funds belonging to the Kano Emirate Council;‎ spreading false rumours against the person of the State Governor; Abdullahi Umar Ganduje; embarrassing the Kano Emirate Council by sending his daughter to represent the council in a recent event in Abuja, as against a responsible council member; the mode of dress of the emir’s daughter at the function in Abuja caused embarrassment to the emirate council and the tradition of Kano people because she failed to wear full traditional regalia;‎ getting involved in political issues;‎ introducing religious views that are contrary to the teachings of Islam; and making‎ statements against President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Kano State House of Assembly Probe Committee, which was given only two weeks to submit its report, is most likely to return a verdict of ‘guilty’ on the emir, all things being equal.

How did the emir, a very brilliant and erudite scholar in Islamic laws and tradition, a most conspicuous student of history, walk himself into such a tight and dark cul-de-sac without bringing to bear the historical circumstances of his grandfather? His grandfather; Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I, who reigned from 1953 to 1963, was probed by the Northern House of Assembly for financial impropriety in 1962, after he reportedly fell out of favour with the then powerful Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and by 1963, his deposition as Emir of Kano had become a fait accompli.

Is the grandson towing the same path? Will he end up just like the grandfather, more so when powerful machinery of both the federal and state governments are against him?

A peep into his background might be helpful in defining and interpreting what awaits him in this stormy voyage of troubled waters he is swimming against. I met Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) in the later days of his tenure as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and in the few times we met, we spoke frankly to each other, with mutual respect. Based on this, l can understand and discuss his journey into the present.

Ugochukwu Okoraofor, then a director with the CBN, called me by 5 am on February 3rd 2014, begging for my presence in Abuja that same day, saying: “Goddy, there is a man l want you to meet this night please.” Of course l obliged him and l left Lagos for Abuja with Arik’s last flight of that day. I did not meet the ‘man’ until the next night, a little after midnight and we talked till 3am. The man happened to be the Governor of CBN himself in his official residence in Abuja.

Okoraofor fully briefed me the previous night on why the governor wanted to see me. I asked my friend two questions after listening to his briefing. One, would he be ready to hear the bitter truth l would tell him? Two, would he be willing to mend his ways to enable accommodation of reconciliation of the issue on ground? My friend replied wisely, saying: “I think so.”

SLS, until l met him, remained an enigma in excellence and controversy. Apart from the controversy that roped his name into the brutal beheading of an Igbo trader, Gideon Akaluka, in Kano on 15th of August, 1995, his ascendancy to the governorship of the CBN on 3rd of June, 2009, brought enough applause which buried the negativity about his background in the ugly 1995 killing in Kano. Even at the CBN, he remained whom he had always been – audaciously outspoken and ferociously defending those things he believed in.

You may not like him, given his frankness and bluntness, with boldness of course, when addressing issues but you may just be compelled to respect and admire him when it comes to presentation of facts and figures and his in-depth knowledge on most topics. I think it is this too much knowledge that brought him in direct conflict with his then boss, President Goodluck Jonathan, in the latter’s presidency. I need to say this because there is this erroneous conclusion by many that the conflict between SLS and Jonathan would not have risen if the late President Musa Yar’Adua (who appointed him governor of CBN), had remained alive and president.

No, my limited knowledge of SLS tells me that he has this natural repulsiveness to every anti-knowledgeable thing, which stirs up a holy rebellion in him against authorities, inclusive of presidents, at any time. He took on Jonathan on the way he ran the economy – a stand that put him in trouble and led to his eventual suspension from office as governor of CBN. He has not proved to be different in the present dispensation, which is why he recently told the incumbent president that “if this government continues to behave the way the last government behaved, we will end up where Jonathan ended. You may not like it, but that is the truth. You have to listen”.

We should not forget in hurry that one of the several charges the Kano State House of Assembly brought against him is “making statements against President Muhammadu Buhari”.

Back to my little knowledge of the emir, each time we met in our brief relationship he listened respectfully to the bitter truth l told him with rapt attention. He did not pick offence when l even told him that “you are too loquacious, get a big padlock to lock your mouth”. I never expected that degree of respect and humility from him. That was my first surprise while my second astonishment was the fact that he took responsibility for his actions, which included, as he put it, “inability to deviate from speaking the truth always”.

He spoke about the alleged ‘missing $20 billion’ with passion and even engaged in number crunching on how he arrived at the amount. One thing for sure, he did not say at any time that the money was ‘stolen’ but instead, said it was ‘missing’. In the end, it has become a common knowledge all over the world today that the said $20 billion was not only missing but was actually stolen by the operators of the Nigerian system then.

From the benefit of knowledge into the man’s working mind, l expected that he would run into trouble even as an emir in Kano, not necessarily because he would commit so much a blunder than being a man of tremendous knowledge but without enough capacity in keeping quiet. He would always refuse to keep quite at times of tyranny, in the words of Wole Soyinka.

His present predicament is also being fuelled by the fact that the former Governor of Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso, whom destiny used to crown SLS the emir, is no more on the same political page with his successor – Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. This is why the emir is now being charged with total disrespect for the governor and l can speedily come to the conclusion that Ganduje will attempt to silence the emir to remove the last of Kwankwaso’s legacies before the 2019 election.

If the other charge against the emir of “making statements against President Muhammadu Buhari” is added to the governor’s, it would require the intervention of God for him to survive dethronement. Will he survive this Tsunami? Only God and time shall tell.