Sanusi And His Circle Of Friends, By Ballason Gloria Mabeiam

It’s a wonder what a day can do in any human life. A week ago, precisely on Monday, March 9, 2020, Kano state government announced the dethronement of Emir Sanusi II in a press statement signed by the secretary to the state government, Usman Alhaji. Predictably, the announcement was preceded by a brawl at the state House of Assembly over the planned removal.

Less than 24 hours after, a new emir was announced to replace Sanusi II ,Aminu Ado Bayero who before then was the Emir of Bichi- one of four new emirates Governor Abdullahi Ganduje created in 2019 while the plot thickened for Sanusi to be removed. The State Government cited Section 11 (1) of the Kano State Emirate Council Law, 2019 which empowers the governor to appoint anybody recommended by the kingmakers. But the Secretary of the State Government had earlier cited ‘alleged total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the governor and other lawful authorities including his alleged persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programs organised by the government without any justification- claiming the disposition amounted to total insubordination. The SSG speaking on behalf of the government the SSG went on to declare that removal was done to ‘safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition and prestige of the Kano emirate built over a thousand years.’ How the state government can argue a case of culture preservation having balkanized about a century monarchy beats the imagination. Again, the conflicts of Law is seen by how a latter day democracy w designs and enforce Laws on over a century old monarchy and of cultures that have mutated over that period.

Not a few saw the dethronement coming. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the 14th Fulani Emir and the Sarkin Kano had been in a cold war with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state who had demonstrated time and again that he could not withstand Sanusi’s vehement disapproval of subterfuge of the People’s will which caused him to ride on a stolen mandate into power. Sanusi II also often rode rough shod against northern conservative elites who believed Sanusi was too sanguine for the conservative Kano stool and often spared nothing in heralding and projecting laid back practices his urbane self found repugnant. With that set, the perfect storm was created.

Perhaps no one predicted with as near exactitude what Sanusi’s monarchical end would be like the serial column writer and commentator, Farooq Kperogi. Of the end, Kperogi wrote in April 2017: ” Sanusi’s cryptic but devastating critique of Kano state Governor Ganduje’s government in Kaduna which is pissing off federal government and state government and an entire region’s conservative cultural elites with bitter , uncomfortable truth-telling was a lethally combustible mix. It is capable of getting him dethroned.” And although Farouq admitted he had no oracular powers, his prediction that like his grandfather, Emir Sanusi II would be dethroned, came true as the 14th Emir of Kano and perhaps the most cerebral intellectual to ascend the Kano throne was, without recourse to a judicial order dethroned and banished first to Loko then Awe in Nassarawa State. Although his wish to die on the throne was not met, his lifetime ambition of being emir was fulfilled – even if facilitated by the political Kwankwasiya manoeuvering that saw Sanusi ascension to the stool of his fathers away from the Jonathanian flood that may have overwhelmed him for releasing in 2014 controversial figures of alleged stolen monies from the NNPC.

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While Ganduje has been the recurrent name as the primary person responsible for Sanusi’s dethronement, it has become evident that he was only a tool in the grand scheme of things. The retinue of security agents comprising of the military, State Secret service and police that were deployed to the palace prior to the dethronement, reveal the kind of security might that exceed Ganduje’s powers.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to see how his friends have stood up for him. Founder of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, Atedo Peterside, who was billed to be a panelist at a Central Bank of Nigeria roundtable session slated for Thursday March 12,2020 declined to participate in the event in protest over the dethronement of Sanusi and the manner he was banished. In a letter addressed to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Peterside noted that the theme of the event which was ‘Going for Growth’ needed to be a wholistic concept that embraces the sum total of actions and activities needed to boost investor confidence including respect of individual freedoms and the rule of law. He believes the dethronement ‘turned back the clock at a time when our economy is at a precipice and when we need to tell ourselves some home truths and speak truth to power in a constructive manner’.
Fair enough Peterside! Who wouldn’t agree that the Buhari government is totalitarian, barely able to tolerate alternative views nor is it feeling of the insecurity and economic meltdown the people languish under?

But the more interesting show came from the Kaduna state Governor, Nasir Ahmad Elrufai. His twitter handle was agog on every move. First, he put up a picture of him meeting the deposed Emir then another picture of the Emir’s mother praying for them as they set to leave Awe for Abuja. There were other pictures for each move. It was a paparazzi of some sorts, the type that could compete favourably with Nollywood. The appointment rain by the Kaduna state Governor on the deposed emir was even more flabbergasting. Within hours of his removal as Emir, the Kaduna state Governor announced Sanusi’s appointment as Vice Chairman of the Kaduna Investment Promotion Agency. He was in that capacity to be led by the Deputy Governor of the State. Skip the details on whether Sanusi had the presence of mind to accept the appointment to the next 24 hours where perhaps after social media reactions to the KADIPA appointment which many thought was beneath Sanusi’s status, Elrufai again shot a second appointment- this time around appointing Sanusi as Chancellor of the Kaduna State University and ousting Mallam Tagwai Sambo, the Chief of Moro’a in Southern Kaduna who was before then the substantive Chancellor of the State University.

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By the way, Sanusi’s lawyers AB Mahmud SAN & Co became beneficiaries of what a functional judiciary should look like. They filed an application for the enforcement of Sanusi’s fundamental rights and had it assigned to a judge within 24 hours. The Court heard the application and granted interim orders on the same day while the enrolled order was served purportedly early enough to have had Sanusi out from banishment- all of that in less than two days. Oh that this privilege be available to every citizen! Except that in Sanusi’s case, there was an exception that was exceptional. It is the kind of exception that in fairer climes would be made available to all whose rights are infringed upon and are in dire straits.


The enduring law of Science states that for every action there is a corresponding reaction. The new expression around town is: ‘May you have a friend like Elrufai in your day of trouble’. Before anyone is quick to say amen, the facts need to be examined more closely: If the friend in need becomes that friend who makes public every move of solidarity, then the motive require questioning. The appointments which came in torrents and less than 48 hours of Sanusi’s ordeal make a case to argue for or against desperation and/ or a design to score cheap political points. That an existing Chancellor would be abruptly ousted without the finesse of first demonstrating that his years of service meant something is a tad morally unsettling. Add that to the fact that under Elrufai’s government, the Southern Kaduna people who have over 45% population have been relegated almost to obscurity. The ouster of Mallam Tagwai Sambo as Chancellor is one appointment less that increases the gapping vacuum of inequality and injustice meted on the Southern Kaduna people by the Elrufai government. While Sanusi would be adding to his retinue of Chancellor appointments including being Chancellor of Borno State University, Skyline University and University of Benin, the only first class chief to be Chancellor from Southern Kaduna extraction was relieved and the state government did not deem it worthy to get a replacement from that area.

Yet that is not as significant as the more germane points of Law. Sanusi’s dethronement throws up a conversation on the need for government to obey the Laws guiding traditional institutions – something Elrufai, the friend to the rescue is grossly guilty of. In 2017, Elrufai, against court orders, sacked 313 district heads and 4,453 village heads thereby returning the state to pre-2001 era where the then Governor Ahmad Makarfi, in response to the religious crisis that bedevilled the state, gave autonomy to communities which were then subservient to traditions and religions foreign to them and which became the source of tension.

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Elrufai was quick to head to Nassarawa but did not find it worthy to attend the burial ceremony of the Agom Adara and paramount ruler of the Adara nation, the late Dr. Galadima Maiwada who was buried on 10 November, 2018 neither did he send any representative at all – not his deputy nor a commissioner to stand in solidarity with the people in their hour of excruciating pain. The deceased Dr. Maiwada, a first class chief, was abducted in curious circumstances along with his wife. He lost four of his aides during the attack and perhaps did not know that at the time of his gruesome murder, was no king because Elrufai’s government scrapped his Christian dominated kingdom and replaced it with an emirate hence forcing on the people traditional rule that could only be led by Muslim rulers.

Of this incident, Sahara Reporters, a leading online newspaper, did an exclusive on 6 May,2019 titled: “How Kajuru Monarch Galadima was Killed for Refusing to Give Up His Stool’. In that media expose, a source was quoted to have told Sahara Reporters that the kidnappers told the monarch before he was killed that despite the ransom paid, they would still kill him because it was the order they had. The news is out there in public domain for anyone who seeks to cross check the facts.

By the way, since Sanusi is a self-professed crusader against poverty and Elrufai has been described by his media aides as ‘a long time friend, ideological soulmate and confidante’ of the former emir, perhaps Kaduna could make use of some empathy and respect for rule of Law which both Sanusi and by extension, Elrufai have benefited from the quick dispensation of justice in the banishment of the emir. What is known is that Elrufai’s Kaduna is a bleeding city from state induced poverty and imbalance. The Kasuwan Barci market has been demolished despite court orders. Durbar Hotel which was a matter before the Supreme Court, was demolished by Elrufai’s government in flagrant disregard and disrespect of Court. Thousands of residents have lost businesses as the government continues to demolish houses and business premises thereby shipping out people from their means of survival. For a state struggling with unprecedented incidences of extreme insecurity,adding to the number of unemployed is an absolute no-no.

So, let us be grateful for friends who show up no matter how the highway bends and who ensure our souls are not orphaned in days of adversity but Lord forbid if such a friend, like Judas, stays in the circle for what he can get and not for the truth he believes.


Barr Gloria is a Kaduna Based Lawyer and Human Right Activist. 

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