Former Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi


Last week a huge cloud of uncertainty and foreboding hovered the ancient city of Kano as Muhammad Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano was unceremoniously dethroned by the Governor Umar Ganduje administration on March 9 for what it called insubordination.

Many had expected the volatile city to go up in flames over the removal of their Emir, but nothing of sort happened, and the uncertainty has given way to first a thaw, and now normalcy has returned. Aminu Ado Bayero, the son of the former Emir, Ado Bayero, Sanusi’s predecessor, was named the new emir.

The deposition itself was a sequel to the resolution of the Kano State Executive Council on March 8, on allegations of insubordination. Following his sack, he was taken to Awe in Nasarawa State and he has been detained in an apartment in the town since then with over 40 security operatives keeping watch.

A highly educated monarch with modern, cosmopolitan views too ecumenical for northern conservative orthodoxy to accept, he was a wrong person for the throne. As a gadfly, Sanusi refused to toe the conservative path as he from time to time during his time as Emir, even stretching back to his days as the Governor of Central Bank, take institutions of the state, power structure and northern oligarchy to the cleaners for infractions.

Neither was he afraid to challenge received notions and settled orthodoxies of our socio-political life. For this, Sanusi has been criticised by conservatives in Northern Nigeria for making several incendiary comments on socio-political issues impacting the region. He had called for abrogation of child marriage, building more schools instead of mosques, and infrastructural development.

He has at several forums made a case for population planning, and has said that polygamy is increasing poverty in the region, advocating for eugenics to solve the Almajiri issue. Sanusi is the most outspoken monarch in the country. He is not afraid to speak truth to power no matter whose ox is gored.

But his fall may have little to do with his opinion on the north’s cultural practices and more on his politics. There was no secret about the no love lost between him and the governor of the state, Umar Ganduje, and by extension, the federal government led by President Buhari. Sanusi did not hide his opposition to the return of the governor and openly supported the opposition party in the state led by Musa Kwankwaso, the immediate past governor who appointed him emir.

Paradoxically, his dethronement is as controversial as his appointment. He was still serving as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, though on suspension when he was announced as the emir after the present emir had initially been reported as the appointee.

In recognition of his non-parreil standing as an intellectual, administrator and a reformist mind, the day following his removal,  Nasir el- Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State gave him two appointments,  one as Pro-Chancellor of Kaduna State University and as vice chairman of the economic advisory council.

” It is high irony that these appointments are an indictment and lampoon of Ganduje ‘s melodramatic farce seen in the act of removal itself”, Dr Hussain Abdullahi of the Department of Political Science,  Kogi State University said in an interview with this newspaper on the issue.

During his short reign as Emir, he railed against government policies, breaking with royal tradition. He criticised the government of misplaced priorities. In 2017, the emirate council was under investigation for corruption. Many saw this as retribution over comments he made. The investigation was later called off by the state legislature following intervention by notable people including Alhaji Aliko Dangote to broker peace.

In 2019, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje signed into law the creation of four new emirates. This unprecedented move saw Sanusi’s traditional domain as emir reduced to a quarter of its original size. According to the law, Sanusi will only preside over 10 local government areas out of the 44 in the state.

In March 2020, the state legislature launched a new investigation on Sanusi for violation of traditional practices; this was coming after a high court ruling restraining the corruption investigation against Sanusi by the state anti-corruption agency.

Before his ascendancy to the revered throne, Sanusi was a banker. He served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009 to 2014 when he was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan after raising the alarm on the $20 billion NNPC scandal.

Sanusi as Governor of Central Bank carried out during his tenure several extensive banking reforms. The reforms were made around four pillars: enhancing the quality of banks, establishing financial stability, enabling healthy financial sector evolution and ensuring that the financial sector contributes to the real economy. He believed that the crash in the capital market was due to financial illiteracy on the part of Nigerian investors.

One of the highlights of his achievements was that he led the  apex bank in rescuing top tier banks with ₦400 billion of public money and dismissed their chief executives, leading to a consolidation process which reduced the number of Nigerian banks through merger and acquisitions, in a bid to make them stronger and more accountable to depositors. He also advised the government to increase the level of investment in infrastructure.

His reforms garnered both criticism and appraisal from the industry. Sanusi has spoken at a number of distinguished international events. The Banker recognised him as the 2010 Central Bank Governor of the Year, for his reforms and leading a radical anti-corruption campaign in the sector. Sanusi is recognised in the banking industry for his contribution to a risk management culture in Nigerian banking.

In 2014, having raised the alarm on the  $20 billion NNPC scandal, Sanusi was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan. Then the unexpected happened. Sanusi was selected to succeed his grand uncle, Ado Bayero, as the Emir of Kano on 8 June 2014. His appointment was controversial, with some believing that it was a politically-motivated suave move to avoid fraud charges from his tenure at the apex bank.

The expectation of many was misplaced, as the people thought Bayero’s son would succeed him as emir, and protested Sanusi’s appointment. He was crowned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II on 9 June 2014, the 14th Emir of Kano and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, the second-most-important Muslim position in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto, leader of the larger Qadiriyya Sufi order.

Many Nigerians of all hue have condemned the treatment meted out to Sanusi. Former Head of State, Abdulsalam Abubakar, who led an abortive northern elders mediation to stave off his dethronement said if Buhari had intervened the situation would have turned out differently. Shehu Sani on his part said the refusal of the President to intervene made him culpable in the illegality.

Eminent political scientist, Professor Hassan Saliu, told this newspaper that Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi should stop talking and seek his freedom. ”He should only try to negotiate his freedom, rather than think of coming back to the throne.” He cautioned traditional rulers to watch politics more closely and avoid being identified with any tendency.

“Although, he was not the only one talking about the situation in the country, he was the loudest among the traditional rulers.”

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a complaint to the United Nations Working Group over what they described as “the arbitrary detention and degrading treatment of deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi (II), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.” This was revealed in a statement signed on last Thursday by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.

In the complaint dated March 11, 2020, and addressed to Mr José Guevara Bermúdez Chairman/Rapporteur of the Working Group, SERAP said the continued detention of Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is a violation of his human rights.

“The Nigerian and Kano State authorities have violated the following rights under the Nigerian Constitution, 1999 (as amended) and international law in continuing to detain Emir Sanusi: the right to be free from arbitrary detention; the right to freedom of movement; and the right to due process of law.

Mr Femi Falana, SAN, foremost human rights campaigner said, “The detention of Emir Sanusi constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of his liberty because it does not have any legal justification. The detention also does not meet the minimum international standards of Justice. ”

In a new twist, the Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered his release from the post-dethronement detention and confinement the state government had imposed, pending the determination of the case. Recall that Sanusi had last Thursday filed an application, asking the court to order his release.

The suit, filed on Thursday, was brought pursuant to section 34, 35, 40, 41 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution and Order 4 Rule 4 of the Federal High Court

Mr. Sanusi asked for, “An interim order of this Honourable Court releasing the Applicant from the detention and/or confinement of the Respondents and restoring the Applicant’s rights to human dignity, personal liberty, freedom of association and movement in Nigeria, [apart from Kano State] pending the hearing and determination of the Applicant’s Originating Motion.”

On granting the above prayer, the former Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) Governor also urged the court to make, “An order granting leave to the Applicant to effect service of this order alongside the originating motion and subsequent processes’” on all the respondents.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; the Director-General of the State Security Services (SSS), Yusuf Bichi; Attorney General of Kano State and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; are the first, second, third and fourth respondents respectively.

Filed on eight grounds, the suit stated that, “Applicant’s fundamental right to life, human dignity, personal liberty and movement are seriously under challenge and continually being breached by the Respondents.”

When the case came up for hearing on Friday, the team of lawyers led by Mr Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, in urging the court to grant their request, said the health of the applicant is a subject of concern.

Fagbemi declared, “Before the pronouncement of the Kano state government deposing the applicant, the palace of the applicant was already evaded by the first and second respondents. The lawyer further said that there is no criminal proceeding pending against the applicant and “the applicant has offered not to go to Kano until the determination of the origination sermon.”

Ruling on the application on Friday, the judge, Anwuli Chikere, granted the prayers one and two respectively. She further held that the respondent is to be served the originating summons within five-days and the respondents to reply within five days.

Justice Chikere adjourned to March 26. In court to witness the day’s proceedings was the ousted emir’s sister, Zainab Sanusi, and his daughter, Khadija Sanusi.

Many Nigerian lawyers have condemned the dethronement and banishment of the emir to Awe in Nasarawa state, saying he was not granted a fair hearing before the dethronement and such banishment violates his freedom of movement.

Sanusi was born on 31 July 1961 in Kano to a ruling Fulani family of the Sullubawa clan. His father, Aminu Sanusi, was a career diplomat who served as the Nigerian Ambassador to Belgium, China and Canada, and later served as the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also the Chiroma of Kano. His grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, was the 11th Emir of Kano from 1953 until 1963 when he was deposed by his cousin Sir Ahmadu Bello.

Sanusi was educated at King’s College, Lagos, where he graduated in 1977. He then proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1981. He later received a Masters degree in economics two years later from the university and lectured at the faculty.

In 1985, Sanusi was hired by Icon Limited (a subsidiary of Morgan Guaranty Trust) and Barings Bank. In 1997, he joined the United Bank for Africa, working in the credit and risk management division. He rose through the ranks to the position of general manager. In 2005, Sanusi became a board member and executive director in charge of risk and management control at First Bank of Nigeria.

First Bank is Nigeria’s oldest bank, and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions. In January 2009, he was appointed CEO. Sanusi was the first northern Nigerian to head the bank. On 1 June 2009, Sanusi was nominated as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua; his appointment was confirmed by the Nigerian Senate on 3 June 2009, during a global financial crisis.


History of dethronement in Nigeria

–Ooni of Ife – Ogboru

Ogboru in 19th century Ooni of Ife dethroned mischievously by Ife Palace Chiefs

-Oba of Benin Ovoranwen Nogbaisi (1888 – 1897)

He was dethroned by the British government in 1897 for monopolizing forms of trade which the British government under Vice Consul Phillips Roberts found unacceptable.

–Emir of Bauchi – Umar Mohammed

Mohammed was deposed on 16th of February, 1902 by Lord Luggard’s second in command – William Wallace for an allegation of slave dealings and insubordination against the British government.

-Emir of Kano, Aliyu Ibn Abdullahi Maje Karofi

He became the Emir of Kano in 1894.

He was dethroned in 1903 when the British -French forces attacked Kano and brought an end to his reign.

–Emir of Ningi – Dan Yaya

Dan yaya was deposed by British Temple months after Umar Emir of Bauchi was sent away in July 1902, for terrorizing his people

—Olu of Warri – Erejuwa I

Erejuwa was the king of Itsekiri at two different times between 1951-1964 and 1966 – 1989. He was exposed by NCNC eastern party in 1964, because of his support for Awolowo’s Action group.

–Alaafin of Oyo – Oba Adediran Adeyemi II

84yrs old Oba Adediran Adeyemi II. Dethroned for political rivalry with Chief Awolowo. The monarch supported   NCNC lead by Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe.

–Timi of Ede – Abibu Lagunju

(1855 to 1892 ) Deposed and exiled by the British government to Ibadan in 1892.

—Awujale of Ijebu-Ode Oba Adenuga Folagbade1892 -1925.

He was deposed in 1929 and exiled to Ilorin, for corruption.

Akarigbo of Remo – Oyebajo

Who reigned between 1811 to 1915, was deposed by the British for refusing to regard his principal chiefs (Bademowo – The Lisa of Remo & Awofala, the Losi

–Osemawe of Ondo – Oba Adekolurejo Jimosun II (Otutubiosun)

( 1918 to 1925 )was removed and banished to Ile-Ife in 1925, where he lived and died.

—Oba of Lagos Ibikunle -Akintoye & Kosoko

Akintoye reigned twice as Oba of Lagos, first between 1841 to 1845, when he was deposed to Badagry town for his Anti-Slave trade advocacy. He was succeeded by Oba Kosoko who was equally deposed for having a rift with the British government when he resisted submitting Lagos colony to the British and ordered the British government to meet the Oba of Benin.

In retaliation for his gut, the British government brought back Ibikunle Akintoye who had been on exile in Egba and Badagry in 1851. He reigned for the second time till September 1853 when he died and Oba Dosumu took over. The deposed was later recalled back to Lagos, where he was made a high chief Oloja of Eleko, a salaried title in Oshodi tapa Epetedo. Where he lived and died in 1872.

-Emir of Gwandu – Mustapha Jokolo

The Ex -Emir was deposed in 2005, by the Kebbi State government following different allegations levied against him by his Chiefs and was exiled to Kaduna.

–Emir of Kano – Sir Mohammodu Sanusi I,

was the Emir of Kano between 1954 to April 1963, when he was deposed by Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, a distant cousin, after an allegation of financial misappropriation in the emirate.

–Olofa of Offa – Oba Wuraola Isioye

Oba Isioye was enthroned on the 5th 1957 and deposed by Northern Regional Government.

–Sultan of Sokoto – Ibrahim Dasuki, deposed in 1996 by the military governor of Sokoto.

–Olowo of Owo – Oba Olateru Olagbegi II

became Olowo in 1941 and reigned till 1966 when he took side with Chief S.L Akintola against Chief Awolowo who was his ally. He was dethroned.

–Deji of Akure – Oba Oluwadamilare Adesina Osupa III.

The king was deposed on 10th of June, 2010 following the beating of his estranged wife at her home in Akure.

-Onojie of Uromi Kingdom –

Anslem Aidenojie was suspended and later dethroned in 2016 by Former Gov. Adams Oshiomole for abusing a woman and total disregard for constituted authority. Gov.Obaseki, however, reinstated the former king in 2018.

Olupoti of Ipoti Ekiti – Oba Oladele Ayeni

The king Oba Isiah Oladele who was alleged to have been wrongly selected in 1987, was thrown out in 2012 after 25yrs of reign.

Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adebayo Adegbola, sacked by the Supreme court in November 2019 after 21yrs of Reign. He was first dethroned in 2011, after which he filed an appeal but lost





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