Sanusi: Why It’s Imperative to Obey the Laws

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Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The recent removal of the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, by Governor Abdulahi Ganduje of Kano State has made obedience of laws guiding the traditional institutions more imperative and urgent. Samule Ajayi writes

Former head of state, General Abdusalami Abubakar, Chairman of Governors Forum and current governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, both made efforts to save the dethroned Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, but their efforts were in vein.

In fact, General Abubakar said if Buhari had intervened, perhaps, the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, would not have been relieved of his duties.
Abubakar’s words: “We tried to mediate. All I can say is that there was misunderstanding and Satan got involved. The governor had the knife in this matter, because the emir is under him. I can’t say whether or not President Buhari intervened, because I was not in Nigeria. But before I left, we went to him with our report and we discussed.”

Both Sanusi and Governor Ganduje had been at loggerheads for a long time. Many were of the opinion that the decision to create additional four emirate councils out of the Kano Emirate Council was to whittle down the power and influence of Sanusi.

Apart from this, the governor has had to query the former managing director of First Bank Plc several times before the decision to dethrone him was taken. After his dethronement, the former Emir was banished, first to Loko and later Awe, in Nasarawa State.

The deposed monarch has set up a strong legal team to challenge his banishment and detention in court and abuse of his fundamental human rights. And on Friday, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the release of the embattled former monarch.

Justice Onwuli Chikere granted the exparte application moved by Sanusi’s lead counsel, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, on Friday. Those joined in the suit were the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Director-General of the Department of State Service, DSS, Yusuf Bichi, the Attorney-General of Kano State, Ibrahim Muktar, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. The judge fixed March 26 this year for further hearing of the case.

And the question many Nigerians are asking is, how a monarch as powerful and influential as the Emir of Kano could be so easily dethroned by a state governor? It is an issue that should be looked into. Not only was Sanusi dethroned, he was also banished into exile and is not expected to step on the soil of the ancient city of Kano till the end of his life.

The way traditional institutions, had been weakened by successive governments, has raised the fundamental issue on the relevance, power and influence of those who are the custodians of these institutions.

Before, it was unheard of that even a President could dethrone a monarch, even though a few examples abound. Nowadays, a local government chairman could query a first class traditional ruler. And if given the backing by a state governor, he or she could suspend or dethrone outright a monarch.

In fact, during the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, first class traditional rulers were asked to submit letter, requesting authorisation to the chairmen of their local governments before travelling out of the country.

A public affairs analyst told THISDAY last week that the way Sanusi was treated by the Kano State government could discourage brilliant and well learned individuals from taking up monarchical titles.

Perhaps, the fellow has a reason. Sanusi attended the famous Kings College, Lagos before proceeding to the equally famous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, for his Bachelor of Science degree in economics. He also has a master degree in Islamic Studies before starting his banking career that took him to the pinnacle of his career as the managing director and chief executive of the nations oldest financial institution, the First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

However, despite these enviable feats, Sanusi never hid his desire to one day become the Emir of Kano. His grandfather, Mohammed Sanusi I was one-time Emir of Kano before his dethronement in 1963. His granduncle, Ado Bayero, succeeded his grandfather before his death in 2014, and Sanusi succeeded him.
The history of dethronement in the country is replete with names of prominent monarchs. The most prominent one before independence was that of former Oba of Benin, Ovonramwen Nogbaisi, who was deposed in 1897 and was sent to exile.

He was accused of the murder of James Philips, then acting consul-general, during a visit to the Benin kingdom. The Oba was captured by the British authorities and tried in accordance with the British law; he was subsequently found guilty before being deposed.

In 1955, Adeyemi Adeniran II, the Alaafin of Oyo, dethroned by Obafemi Awolowo, leader of old western region, reportedly over political reasons. The Alaafin was among those who did not identify with Awolowo but was a fan of Nnamdi Azikwe and his National Council of Nigerians and the Cameroons, NCNC).
On April 20, 1996, Ibrahim Dasuki was dethroned as the Sultan of Sokoto. He had reigned for exactly eight years having been enthroned in 1988. Many were of the opinion that the late Mohammed Maccido, who died in a plane crash in October 2006, was the popular choice of the people.

He was allegedly dethroned on the orders of General Sani Abacha, then head of state. On the day he was deposed, the emir was called into the office of Colonel Yakubu Muazu, then military administrator of Sokoto, and was told he had been deposed as the Sultan. He was subsequently taken to Yola and later to Jalingo in Taraba State, where he was placed in exile.

In 2005, Mustapha Jokolo was deposed as the 19th Emir of Gwandu by the Kebbi State government for allegedly making unguarded statements capable of threatening national security. He was accused of not being in good terms with other traditional rulers in the state.

Oba Olateru Olagbegi, the late Olowo of Owo, in Ondo State, reigned on two epochs. He was first appointed in 1941 but was dethroned in 1966. He was caught in the crossfire of regional crisis between two Action Group leaders: Obafemi Awolowo and Samuel Ladoke Akintola.

Ironically, the Action Group was birthed in his palace about a decade before but was accused of taking sides with Akintola and was dethroned. Oba Adekola Ogunoye succeeded him and in 1993, after the death of Ogunoye, he was returned to his post until his death.

If you look at how Sanusi and some these monarchs were treated, the analyst told THISDAY, I don’t see anyone who has paid his dues in the corporate world showing interest in traditional stools again. They will just be rubbished by people, who are not as learned or exposed as they are but are holding political positions over them.

This is why the laws establishing the operations of the traditional institutions must be reviewed and amended. Putting the traditional rulers under the absolute controls of political office holders is inimical to collective interest and would continue to hamper fundamental human rights.