The Sanusis

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Shock and criticism greeted the dethronement of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II on Monday. The announcement of his removal swept through the entire nation like wild fire. He was clearly a victim of politics, who got hooked in a running battle with the Governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje.

The removal of Sanusi was announced by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, after the State Executive Council meeting on Monday. Usman Alhaji said Emir Sunusi’s dethronement was as a result of unanimous decision taken by Kano State Executive Council.

“The Kano state Executive Council under the Chairmanship of His Excellency, the Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (OFR) has unanimously approved the immediate removal/dethronement of the Emir of Kano Emirate, Muhammad Sunusi II. The Emir of Kano is in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state Governor and other lawful authorities, including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organized by the Government without any lawful justification which amount to total insubordination.


“It is on record and in so many instances, Malam Muhammad Sanusi II has been found breaching part 3 Section 13 (a–e) of the Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and which if left unchecked will destroy the good and established image of the Kano Emirate. This removal is made after due consultations with the relevant stakeholders and in compliance with part 3 Section 13 of the Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and other reasons stated above.

“The removal was reached in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano Emirate built over a thousand years.”

Ganduje removes Sanusi at last

With those words, Sanusi’s reign in Kano became history. He was humiliated further with his banishment to Loko, a village in Nasarawa State. He was forced out of the palace by armed security operatives and made to leave Kano the same day. Sanusi’s case was a tale of falling from grace to grass. He never learnt a lesson from what happened to his grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I in 1963. He fell into the same trap that entrapped his grandfather.

The fall Muhammadu Sanusi I

Muhammadu Sanusi I, was the Emir of Kano from 1954-1963. He was the eldest son of Emir Abdullahi Bayero. He was a powerful Emir that had substantial influence in the colonial Northern Nigeria. He hosted Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Kano in 1956.

According to Wikipedia, The power tussle between him and his distant cousin, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto was believed to have resulted in his dethronement and confinement in Azare 1963.

Muhammadu Sanusi I was asked to choose where to go on exile and he chose Azare, a city in Bauchi State. Like King Jaja of Opobo, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi of Benin or Olowo of Owo, Oba Olateru Olagbegi who were banished outside their domains by the powers that be (the first two by the British colonialists and the last, by Governor Adeyinka Adebayo of Western Region), that was the beginning of Patriarch Sanusi’s journey into exile in Azare where he spent 20 years and died, according to TheNEWS.

Just as Sanusi II was probed politically, Muhammed Sanusi 1, was dethroned as a result of power struggle (hidden under the cloak of a probe) between him and Ahmadu Bello. The old man also had problem with conservative northern Muslims. Muhammadu Sanusi 1 and Ahmadu Bello were great friends ab initio but their relationship became topsy turvy later. In an article by Ajiroba Yemi Kotun, entitled “Road to Azare: How Emir Sanusi’s Grandfather Was Removed Due To ‘Jealousy,” published in The Nigerian Voice, originally on 23 May, 2013, many factors were responsible.

Late Sir Ahmadu Bello removed Muhammadu Sanusi I

First is the radical modern Islam, represented by the old Emir and the conservatives, represented by the old guard. Despite the unserious religious differences between the two tariqa, and because the Sardauna considered himself the champion of Islam in the North, the leadership of a much more popular Islamic tariqa by the Emir of Kano was construed by him as a challenge.

Another factor was political ego between Sanusi and Sardauna. As Kotun pointed out, Sanusi was one of those responsible for the success of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in the election of 1951, and was virtually a founding member of the party. Problem started when Sardauna felt humbled when, after he and other dignitaries were seated at a public function at Race Course in Kaduna, Emir Sanusi, as Kotun narrated, stole the spotlight “by arriving in full splendour… and the whole assemblage had to stand up for the Emir in traditional homage and honour. It was just too much for the Sardauna to bear.”

The above scenario and many others led to the dethronement of the old Sanusi by Ahmadu Bello. He was a victim of political intrigues, tussles, and power play. He paid the price for challenging the Sardauna.

Road to Sanusi II’s fall

Certainly, Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, is well grounded economically. He could not keep talking in criticising the economic policies of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. With inept economic policy of Buhari’s government, Sanusi always ran his mouth from the throne; thus, his statements may have offended the powers that be at the Federal level. He criticised the Buhari’s government’s foreign exchange climate in 2016 as unrealistic and came back again to bash the government for seeking $30 billion loan, among several others. So, at the centre, he was not regarded as a fiend, which was why Buhari refused to get involved in the crisis between him and Ganduje.

Buhari had said when a delegation from Kano visited him in Abuja recently that, “I know my role as the President of Nigeria. By the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Governor of Kano State has his own roles. Once a matter is in the hands of the House of Assembly (like in Kano), the President has no constitutional right to interfere. I am here by the Constitution, I swore by it and I am going to stand by it.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back was in the build up to the 2019 governorship election. Sanusi ostensibly pitched tent with the opposing People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in a bid to wrest power out of Ganduje’s hand. Ganduje, the All Progressives Congress,’ APC, candidate, seeking a second term nearly lost the election. In fact, many political analysts believed that he lost the election. The PDP’s governorship candidate, Abba Yusuf was leading Ganduje with over 26,000 votes when it was declared inconclusive. The re-run election was controversially won by Ganduje. Sanusi was fingered in the near debacle of the governor.

With the election over, Ganduje decided to whittle the power of the emir by creating additional five emirates in Kano, With the House of Assembly behind him, a legislation was hurriedly passed splitting the emirates into five.

The next move by the governor was to institute a probe on Sanusi through the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission, who ordered him to appear to defend himself. According to the Chairman of the Commission, Barr. Muhuyi Rimingado, the investigations are not related to any other probe of the Emir.

He said: “Preliminary findings suggest that a company, Country Wide House Ltd. served as a corporate vehicle to allegedly launder the sum of over N2bn being proceeds of several hectares of land in Darmanawa phase I and II and Bubbugaji, under the former right of occupancy CON-RESS 2016-503 illegally sold to Messer family home fund limited at the alleged instance of His Highness the Emir of Kano.”

Rimingado also claimed that “Investigation further revealed that some of the proceeds of the sales remitted to the Emirate Council’s bank account can be traced to the companies of interest to His Highness.” It was this probe that finally consumed Sanusi.