Transgressions and Removal of An Outspoken Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

Muhammadu Sanusi II was the 14th emir of Kano under the Fulani dynasty, he was appointed as the Emir of Kano on June 8, 2014. He was born on July 31, 1961, in Kano to a ruling Fulani family of the Sullubawa clan. 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. According to media reports, Sanusi II has been having a running battle with the Governor of Kano state Abdullahi Ganduje over difference in their political alignment and many see Ganduje’s action as his way of getting at Sanusi who is believed to have worked against the governor’s re-election last year.

Sanusi was accused of several wrongdoing by those who do not like his style of leadership and outspoken nature. The government said he was removed “in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano emirate”, accusing the emir of “total disrespect” of institutions and the governor’s office.

Since he became emir of Kano Sanusi had made use of every opportunity to address social-political and economic issues in Nigeria especially in the northern part of the country – many agrees that he is on the part of truth and did not shy away from pointing out some of these issues or voicing out his opinion (which some say is a break with the tradition that an emir be seen and not heard). The truth(s) many conservatives do not want to hear or pretend not to notice or believe. Sanusi must have been removed, dethroned and exiled but he – Sanusi has played his part –  an excellent part which stands him out among several other leaders we have today in the country (twitter users pointed out).

Allegations and Accusations

Sanusi in November 2014 urged his followers to fight Boko Haram. The consequence of that call was the bombing of the Great Mosque of Kano with over 150 killed. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the insurgent group Boko Haram, accused Sanusi of deviating from Islam and threatened his life; Sanusi replied that he is “safe with Allah”, and likened Shekau’s extremist comments (describing Sufis as unbelievers) to those of the heretical Islamic preacher Maitatsine.

Mr Sanusi was seen as a reformist and had been critical of some government policies – a stance that frequently put him at loggerheads with ruling politicians (BBC). In 2016 during the worst days of recession in various forums Sanusi criticised the economic policies of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari. and openly condemned Buhari’s plan to borrow $29.9bn for development of infrastructure across Nigeria.

Sanusi reviewing the situation in the country especially among the poor in the northern part of the country proposed in 2016 a law seeking to ban polygamy among the poor (those who can barely eat three square meals a day). This view and move were reported to have been opposed by the conservative elements in the North.

Alleged misused of N6bn: Sanusi in April 2017 came under serious investigation by the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission for the alleged misuse of N6bn. The Kano State House of Assembly later conducted its own probe which was subsequently called off by the Assembly following a plea through a letter by the State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. The letter was read at the floor of the House by the speaker Kabiru Alhassan Rirum.  Governor Ganduje in that letter said, he was calling for the investigation to be dropped as a result of interventions by highly-placed personalities in the matter which includes the then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo; party leaders; former heads of state Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar; Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar; and businessmen and indigenes of the state, Aliko Dangote and Aminu Dantata.

Sanusi later fell out with Zamfara State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, over the Governor’s comment that meningitis was caused by fornication.

Sanusi was also alleged to nurse the ambition of becoming the Vice-President while the acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, would succeed Buhari. This was during the long period that Mr. President medical trip in London between 2017 and 2018.

Quoting a former lawmaker Junaid Mohammed on this allegation which Sanusi did not give response to in any forum;

“Once Buhari was sick in England, he went to Osinbajo. This Emir of Kano was sure that Buhari was going to die. And if Buhari dies, he would like Osinbajo to consider him as Vice-President even though on the surface, he belonged to no party.”

In 2019 the Ex-Emir of Kano  was accused of supporting the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Abba Kabir-Yusuf during the run-up to the governorship election in the state. Again Sanusi was spotted to openly during a press conference in his palace praised

The Independent National Electoral Commission announced that the PDP candidate was in an early lead ahead of the re-run, Sanusi held a press conference in his palace where he praised the Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Wakili, who had a few hours earlier, arrested Ganduje’s deputy, Nasiru Gawuna  shortly before Ganduje was declared winner by INEC.

The Governor of the state in order to get back at Sanusi and reduce his influence and power in Kano in May 2019 broke down the Kano emirate into five – Kano, Rano, Bichi, Karaye and Gaya.

The government paid Sanusi only N4 million as compensation for demolishing the ex- Emir’s N250m property to pave way for the flyover and underpass being constructed at the Dangi Roundabout area by the state government.

Sanusi was accused of not attending official meetings and programmes organised by the Government “without any lawful justification which amount to total insubordination.”

Just last week the State House of Assembly set up an eight-man panel headed by the Deputy Speaker, Hamisu Chidere, to investigate fresh allegations that Sanusi abused his office which culminated eventually to Sanusi’s deposition and exile to Loko on Monday.

The Kano State Executive Council accused Sanusi II of being disrespectful. In the letter announcing his removal, the state government said: “The Emir of Kano is in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the State Governor and other lawful authorities.”

In the past Sanusi had criticised what he described as the “ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam” in some parts of northern Nigeria that has discouraged the education of girls, family planning and other progressive policies.

Last month, he said fathers who sent their children out to beg for alms should be arrested.

His Removal As CBN Chief

Sanusi in 2014 was suspended as CBN governor by President Goodluck Jonathan. His suspension came after Sanusi accused the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of not remitting some $20 billion to state coffers. Sanusi had written to Jonathan detailing that the NNPC had not remitted over $49.8 billion proceeds of crude oil sales. The NNPC responded that no money was missing thus leading to the constitution of a reconciliation committee whose findings were debated. Unsatisfied with the reconciliation process, Sanusi brought the matter to the attention of the Senate. a forensic audit was carried out by PwC and the result poked holes in the arguments put up by the NNPC and the Ministry of petroleum.

Leadership Style

Aside all these allegations and accusations Muhammadu Sanusi II  was an outspoken and fearless monarch. Before becoming Emir of Kano, Sanusi was known for speaking passionately about issues regarding the polity and economy of Nigeria.

He wasn’t shy of openly criticizing and accusing political and religious leaders in the north of not doing enough for the region, adding that the lackadaisical approach to governance within the region was a major contributing factor to the widening of the poverty gap between the mainly Muslim north and the majority-Christian south. A view many Nigerians agreed and shared with.

TIME magazine named Sanusi in its list of influential people in 2011. In 2013, he was awarded a special award at the Global Islamic Finance Awards for his role in promoting Islamic banking and finance in Nigeria.

Long before he became emir, he opposed the adoption of Islamic law in some northern states, arguing that there were more pressing issues that needed to be dealt with.

In the mid-1990s he quit a well-paid job as banking risk manager to deepen his knowledge of Arabic and Islamic studies by going to study in Sudan.