Muhammadu Sanusi II, the former Emir of Kano, one of Nigeria’s most influential traditional Muslim leaders, has been removed from his throne because of “disrespect”. He was dismissed for having shown “insubordination” towards the authorities of Kano state, the northern part of the country.
Muhammadu Sanusi II, a former head of the central bank, has had an icy relationship with the governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje, since 2017. His supporters believe he was fired for opposing Mr. Ganduje’s re-election last year.
The traditional chiefs of Nigeria hold few constitutional powers but are able to exercise significant influence because they are considered to be the guardians of religion and tradition. Sanusi was considered a reformer and had criticized specific government policies, a position which often put him in conflict with politicians in power, reports BBC journalist Ishaq Khalid in Nigeria.
The former Emir was expelled from the palace in the city of Kano by the security forces. Not yet known precisely where he was taken, but according to tradition, he will go on exile, which is outside emirate for the rest of his life, report different news media. Aminu Ado Bayero, the son of Mr. Sanusi’s predecessor who has ruled Kano state for over 50 years until his death in 2014, was chosen as the new Emir by local authorities.
Why was he fired?
The government said he (Muhammadu Sanusi II) had been removed “in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion, and prestige of the Emirate of Kano”, accusing the Emir of “total disrespect” to institutions and the governor’s office.
The role of the Emir
- Absolute power before British colonial rule
- Was part of the colonial administration
- Few constitutional powers since independence
- Considered the guardian of religion and tradition
- Revered in the north, mainly Muslim
- Since the Emir and the governor fell out, Mr. Sanusi has not attended state functions or official meetings, which, according to the government, amounts to “total insubordination”.
The refusal of Muhammadu Sanusi II to appear before the panel investigating his allegations of corruption charges against him was also not welcomed by the government. Sanusi II is also accused of selling property and mismanaging the UAE funds, but he obtained a court order that ended the investigation.
After last year’s election, Ganduje, who is an influential figure in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party, divided the emirate of Kano into five and appointed four other emirs – for weakening the influence of Mr. Sanusi.
Mr. Sanusi does not hesitate to express his opinions, according to some, constitutes a break with the tradition that an emir is seen and not heard. Last month, he said that fathers who sent their children to beg for alms should be arrested.
In the past, he criticized what he described as “the ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam” in parts of northern Nigeria, which discouraged girls’ education, family planning, and other progressive policies.
Who is Mr. Sanusi?
Born into the Fulani royal family, Lamido Sanusi became the 14th Emir of Kano in 2014 after the death of Ado Bayero. He described the post, which carries enormous weight among Muslims in northern Nigeria, as a lifelong ambition.
Things to know about Mohammed Sanusi II
- Born into the Peul royal family, Lamido Sanusi became governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009
- He was fired in 2014 after revealing that $20 billion in oil revenue had disappeared
- TIME magazine named him to its list of influencers in 2011
- In 2013, he received a special award at the Global Islamic Finance Awards for his role in promoting Islamic banking and finance in Nigeria
- Muhammadu Sanusi II became the 14th Emir of Kano in 2014 and is the grandson of the 11th Emir
- In the mid-1990s, he left a well-paying job as a bank risk manager to deepen his knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies by studying in Sudan.
Long before he became an emir, he opposed the adoption of Islamic law in several northern states, arguing that there were more pressing issues to be addressed. But when he became the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria that he gained notoriety.
His denunciation of more than 20 billion dollars reportedly missing from the state oil company caused a storm that led to its suspension by the president at the time, Goodluck Jonathan. The government denied that there was a shortage of money. Mr. Sanusi contested his suspension in court but was nevertheless removed from the office. He later withdrew his complaint to the court.
Critics castigate his attitude and question his refusal to appear before the panel charged with investigating allegations of corruption against him.