Dethronement: How Presidency Tried to Save Sanusi

Former Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi Lamido
  • Ganduje, Sanusi refused to give peace a chance
  • I don’t want to go back, I’ve moved on, says deposed Emir

Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

Contrary to insinuations doing the rounds, the Presidency actually made several moves to reconcile the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and the deposed Emir of the state, Muhammadu Sanusi ll, in the peak of their feud.

A highly placed source in the Presidency, who pleaded anonymity but claimed to be in the know of efforts to broker peace between Ganduje and Sanusi, said both parties were responsible for what happened, because they refused to give peace a chance.

But the deposed Emir, Saturday, said in a video that went viral, that he was done with the traditional stool and was not considering going back, because “I’m moving on”.

According to the presidency source, “Contrary to allegations of collusion to remove former Emir Sanusi from office, the presidency had intervened at many stages of the conflict to avoid escalation in the last two years, but the efforts collapsed because of the intransigence of the two sides to shift ground.”
He said, when the Ganduje administration made up its mind to remove Emir Sunusi as far back as 2017, the governor informed President Muhammadu Buhari of this decision and asked Buhari for advice and guidance.

“Outright, President Buhari said it was inappropriate and requested that the plan be shelved,” the source added, noting that the president, on November 17, 2017 wrote a letter to Ganduje wherein he advised the governor not to remove the Emir.

“This meeting was followed with a written letter to the governor dated 17th November, 2017 in which the President’s advice was clearly stated. The president directed his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari to follow up for a peaceful resolution of the crisis of confidence between the two.”

The source said it was part of the president’s efforts to resolve the dispute that led to the setting up a committee made up of five state governors led by the Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

“They did their best. Calm returned but occasional flare-ups continued and were aggravated by the tense situations under which the governor reemerged for his second term in the 2019 general election”, he added.

It was also gathered that in the course of that period, Governor Fayemi, his Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru and to some extent, the Inspector General of Police, made several expeditions to Kano, to prevail on the Governor to not remove the Emir in those tense moments in the interest of peace and security.

The source said the main grouse of the administration was that the Emir had failed to stay above the fray of partisan politics especially, as it related to the governor’s re-election.

Explaining further some of the efforts made by the president to save the situation, he said: “In reaction to the various suggestions by senior citizens including Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Mohammed Wushishi and Abdulsalami Abubakar, among others, the Chief of Staff sought for permission and gave the green light for the commencement of work by the Abdulsalami Abubakar committee.

“The committee members sat down with the president at the Villa to discuss their mission.At this meeting, the president outlined the efforts he put into the resolution of the conflict in Kano and said he had had enough. He gave assurances of support and put at their disposal, the use of the Presidential Aircraft, then wished them the best of luck. But he did make clear that if the situation warranted it, we would not hesitate to clamp an emergency rule on the state.
“Governor Ganduje gave conditions for peace, including the withdrawal of court cases by Emir Sanusi against the Kano State Government. Sanusi allegedly accepted to withdraw some of the cases, but stood his ground on the others, including his refusal to withdraw a court case instituted by Bashir Tofa and his group who the state government alleged to be Sanusi’s proxy in the case.

“The governor insisted that the newly created emirates must be kept but acceded to the Emir that four of the five kingmakers whose districts were excised from Kano be reinstated. The Emir agreed not to appeal the decision to uphold the Emirates by the courts.

“It was clear all this while that the inflexibility to meet some of the conditions for peace by both have added complications that made peace almost impossible. For example, the former Emir had wanted the Kano State Anti Corruption Commission to stop its case against him completely.

“He stood firmly that the case he instituted against the Code of Conduct Bureau will not be withdrawn, because in his view, he needed to pursue it to clear his name, a demand that Ganduje rejected.”

The source, however, said the Abubabar Committee report didn’t give any “glimmer of hope” for ending the crisis, adding that, “A mediator’s success depends largely on the cooperation of the parties involved.”

Despite the frustrations, sources explained the president didn’t give up on the efforts for peace. The presidency official said when the Chief of Staff led a delegation to condole the former Emir over the death of Ambassador Sanusi, the late Dan Iyan Kano, and the former Emir’s uncle, Abba Kyari met separately with Ganduje and Sanusi in a renewed effort to reconcile the two actors in the conflict.

The source noted that, having gone to this extent for peace, it was uncharitable and baseless to accuse President Buhari of ordering Ganduje to depose Sanusi.

He said, “the President holds Sanusi in the highest esteem and has nothing personal against him and, therefore, he couldn’t have told Ganduje to depose him,” describing as nonsensical the allegation that Buhari, was complicit in the Emir’s illegal removal and banishment to Nasarawa.

“Chieftaincy law in Northern Nigeria going back to 1919 makes for the deposition and confinement of Emirs and Chiefs. Sarki Alu of Kano was removed by the colonial administration using this law and was walked to Lokoja on foot – start a life of exile.

“State governments have used that law to full effect dealing with Sultan Dasuki in Sokoto, removed and kept in Zing, Taraba state and Emir Jokolo of Gwandu, Kebbi State, who has been kept away from the state now for over two decades. Kano State did not need President Buhari’s authorisation for anyone to remove and exile Emirs and Chiefs.”

But, Sanusi, in a video uploaded online yesterday, said the dethronement letter sent to him by the Kano State government was poorly written and it would have been easy for him to proceed to the court to challenge it.

“I have done what I could in six years, I’m moving on. I don’t want to go back. The truth is if I had wanted to go back, the dethronement letter was so badly written, it was not done professionally. The easiest thing is just to go to court.

“It’s a simple, fair hearing, ‘did you query him? Did you ask him to defend himself? Did you even call him to ask him any question?’ That’s all but I think we should go on to a new phase in life.”

Sanusi was dethroned last Monday as the Emir of Kano, by Ganduje for alleged insubordination and was subsequently banished to Loko and later Awe, both in Nasarawa State. He, however, returned to Lagos on Friday following a court order granting him freedom.