The Long Walk to Banishment

Muhammad Sanusi

Iyobosa Uwugiaren

He was sacked as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) by President Goodluck Jonathan for divulging a controversial non-remittance of $20 billion statutory fund into the federal government’s accounts, a charge the administration vehemently refuted.

Months later after he was sacked, June 8, 2014, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II was appointed as the Emir of Kano, succeeding his late uncle, Alhaji Ado Bayero, whom historians said served in the ‘’traditional and religious role’’ for well over 50 years.
However, after a long-drawn-out battle with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje, the Emir of Kano was deposed yesterday, almost six years into his tenure.

His problem with his governor is frequently traced to his critical commentaries in 2017, especially against the governor’s frequent foreign trips, the award of contracts to Chinese companies by the state government, and some general strong criticisms of the northern elite.
Specifically, in 2017 at the Mo Ibrahim governance lecture, the former CBN governor said in faraway Morocco that governors want traditional rulers to fight violence but they were not allowed to interrogate their failure to act, which usually creates violence.
He said: ‘’Three to five million children out of school in Kano; yet the northern governor still goes to China to get $2bn loan to build light rails instead of schools.

“Traditional rulers like me find themselves in a very difficult position; with one hand politicians are very happy for you to fight fires, tell people to keep the peace, preach to people, condemn violence, on the other you are not allowed to criticise root causes that may come from the failings of politicians.

“It is fine to say to a rural villager: ‘You should go to school,’ but it is not fine to say to the governor, why haven’t you built a school?”
With that seemingly acidic tongue, not many people doubt that it was a matter of time before Ganduje would confront Sanusi.

Sanusi Accused of Misappropriating N3.4 billion

The first move was allegation of misappropriation of emirate’s funds of N3.4 billion. He was later summoned by the Kano anti-corruption agency over his expenses after he was appointed in 2014. Indeed, the Head of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr. Muhyi Magaji, had said that the agency was investigating complaints of “questionable expenditures and financial misappropriations.”
Amidst back and forth over the allegation of misappropriation of fund, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission told the world that it uncovered misappropriation of over N3.4 billion by the Kano Emirate Council.

The commission further alleged that the said amount was misappropriated between 2014 and 2017 under Emir Sanusi’s watch, adding that among other things the Kano Emirate Council, under Sanusi, spent over N1.4 billion without appropriation.
The commission also averred that the emirate council spent over N1.9 billion on personal things, which contravened the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and Section 8 of the Kano State Emirate Council Special Fund Law 2004, and Section 314 of Penal Code, as well as provisions of Section 26 of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission Law 2008 (as amended).
The commission, therefore, recommended the suspension of Emir Sanusi as well as others connected with the case, pending the final outcome of the investigation.

Court Quashes Sanusi’s Corruption Indictment

However, when the indictment was challenged, a Federal High Court sitting in Kano set aside the commission’s investigation Report, which endorsed the suspension of Sanusi from office.
Justice Obiorah Egwuatu, who delivered the judgment, ruled that the failure to invite Sanusi to defend himself against the allegations was a breach and an infringement on his right to a fair hearing. The court also awarded N200, 000 cost against the commission.

Ganduje Signs Law Creating New Emirates in Kano

However, following the court’s judgment, which set aside the indictment of Sanusi, the governor on May 8 created additional four emirates: Gaya, Rano, Karaye and Bichi in Kano and appointed first-class emirs, which many believed was designed to weaken the power of Sanusi. But Ganduje claimed the new emirates were planned to facilitate vigorous participation of rural dwellers in governance.

Court Dissolves 4 New Emirate Councils in Kano

The battle between Ganduje and Sanusi continued when on November 22 last year, a Kano High Court presided over by Justice Usman Na’Abba dissolved the four additional emirates and first-class emirs created by the Kano State Government.
The governor’s action was challenged by the then member representing Gwarzo in the Kano State House of Assembly, Hon. Rabi’u Gwarzo. Ruling on the controversial matter, Justice Na’abba said the Kano State House of Assembly had desecrated the provision of Section 101 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as amended), which allows the assembly to make laws.
He, therefore, nullified the law creating the new four emirates, stating that the petition for the creation of the emirates was faulty and did not follow due process.

The Fresh Petition that Nailed Sanusi

Even though some prominent political and religious leaders across the country tried to mediate over the dispute between Ganduje and Sanusi, political monitors in Kano State said that the strong opposition to Ganduje’s re-election by Sanusi in the 2019 general election compounded the dispute. The deposed emir was accused of working with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to defeat Ganduje in the election. But through a very controversial election, the governor returned and threatened to finish his battle with Sanusi.

Apparently working on the governor’s political script, a group of person last week submitted a fresh petition to the Kano State House of Assembly against Sanusi for alleged behavioural misconduct.
The Chairman, Committee on Local Government and Emirates, Hon. Zubairu Masu, had said that the petition was submitted by two people requesting the house to make a necessary and thorough investigation about the allegations, which they claimed was contrary to the culture and tradition of the people of Kano.
Quickly, the assembly constituted a committee headed by the Deputy Speaker, Hamisu Chidare, and seven others to investigate the petition against the emir, coupled with the fresh invitation sent to him by the Kano anti-corruption agency.

Finally, Kano Government Removes Sanusi as Emir

Finishing his battle with his perceived enemy, Ganduje on Monday removed Sanusi from office.
The Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Usman Alhaji, who announced this on Monday at the State Executive Council meeting said the state government took the decision to remove the traditional ruler over allegations of consistently refusing to abide by instructions given to him.
He said that the removal was in line with the recommendation of the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission which had summoned the emir.