Details of President Muhammadu Buhari’s role in the circumstances surrounding the dethronement and banishing of Emir Muhammad Sanusi II have emerged, indicating that the President even threatened to impose a state of emergency in Kano to force both warring parties to sheathe their swords.
Emir Sanusi was dethroned and banished to Nasarawa State last week by the Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, after a long battle of wits between them since 2017.
A presidency source disclosed that the feud between the governor and the emir started as far back 2017 and heightened during the 2019 governorship election in the state, and that several efforts by Buhari to stop the removal of Sanusi eventually failed despite the president’s good-hearted intention and efforts.
Recounting the details, the source said that prominent Northern elders like former Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Wushishi and Abdusalami Abubakar, as well as Governors Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Abubakar Badaru, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Bello, were recruited in the aborted efforts to ensure reconciliation between Sanusi and Ganduje.
Insisting that Buhari did not order the dethronement of the Emir as alleged by some politicians, the source further revealed that Sanusi refused to withdraw certain litigations filed by him or his associates, while the Governor also refused to abolish the newly created Emirates in Kano State, as part of conditions to broker peace.
When it became inevitable that peace and rapprochement were not forthcoming as a result of the inflexibility of both parties, the President was obviously left with no option but to allow the lawful procedures to be applied by both parties, the source added while insisting that it was nonsensical to accuse the President of colluding with any side.
According to the source, “the presidency had intervened at many stages of the conflict to avoid escalation in the last two years but the efforts collapsed because of the intransigence of the two sides to shift ground.
“When the Governor Ganduje administration made up its mind to remove Emir Sunusi as far back as 2017, the Governor informed President Buhari of this decision. He however asked for advice and guidance. Outrightly, President Buhari said it was inappropriate and requested that the plan be shelved.
“This meeting was followed with a written letter to the Governor dated 17th November, 2017 in which the President’s advice was clearly stated. The President directed his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari to follow up for a peaceful resolution of the crisis of confidence between the two.
“This led to the setting up a Committee made up of five state Governors led by that of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. They did their best. Calm returned but occasional flare-ups continued and were aggravated by the tense situations under which the governor reemerged for his second in the 2019 general elections.
“In the course of that period, Governor Fayemi, his Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru and to some extent the Inspector General of Police made several expeditions to Kano, to prevail on the Governor to not remove the Emir in those tense moments in the interest of peace and security.
“The main grouse of the administration was that the Emir had failed to stay above the fray of partisan politics, especially as it related to the Governor’s re-election.
“In reaction to the various suggestions by senior citizens including Generals Babangida, Wushishi and Abdulsalami Abubakar, among others, the Chief of Staff sought for permission and gave the green light for the commencement of work by the Abdulsalami Abubakar committee. The committee members sat down with the President at the Villa to discuss their mission.
“At this meeting, the President outlined the efforts he put into the resolution of the conflict in Kano and said he had had enough. He gave assurances of support and put at their disposal, the use of the presidential aircraft, then wished them the best of luck. But he did make clear that if the situation warranted it, we would not hesitate to clamp an emergency rule on the state.
“Governor Ganduje gave conditions for peace, including the withdrawal of court cases by Emir Sanusi against the Kano State Government. Sanusi allegedly accepted to withdraw some of the cases, but stood his ground on the others, including his refusal to withdraw a court case instituted by Bashir Tofa and his group who the State government alleged to be Sanusi’s proxy in the case.
“The Governor insisted that the newly-created emirates must be kept but acceded to the Emir that four of the five Kingmakers whose districts were excised from Kano be reinstated. The Emir agreed not to appeal the decision to uphold the Emirates by the courts.
“It was clear all this while that the inflexibility to meet some of the conditions for peace by both have added complications that made peace almost impossible.
“For example, the former Emir had wanted the Kano State Anti Corruption Commission to stop its case against him completely. He stood firmly that the case he instituted against the Code of Conduct Bureau will not be withdrawn because, in his view he needed to pursue it to clear his name, a demand that Governor Ganduje rejected.”
Another privileged source explained that the Abubakar Committee report didn’t give any “glimmer of hope” for ending the crisis, since “a mediator’s success depends largely on the cooperation of the parties involved.”
Despite these frustrations, the source explained the President didn’t give up on the efforts for peace; and that the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, led a delegation to condole the former Emir over the death of Ambassador Sunusi, the late Dan Iyan Kano, and the former Emir’s uncle, he met separately with Ganduje and Sanusi in a renewed effort to reconcile the two actors in the conflict.
The source noted that, having gone to this extent for peace, it is uncharitable and baseless to accuse President Buhari of ordering Ganduje to depose Sanusi.
According to the source, “the President holds Sanusi in the highest esteem and has nothing personal against him and, therefore, he couldn’t have told Ganduje to depose him.”
“Chieftaincy law in Northern Nigeria going back to 1919 makes for the deposition and confinement of Emirs and Chiefs. Sarki Alu of Kano was removed by the colonial administration using this law and was walked to Lokoja on foot start a life of exile.
“State governments have used that law to full effect dealing with Sultan Dasuki in Sokoto, removed and kept in Zing, Taraba state and Emir Jokolo of Gwandu, Kebbi State who has been kept away from the state now for over two decades. Kano State did not need President Buhari’s authorization for anyone to remove and exile Emirs and Chiefs”, the source stated.
Our source concluded that allegations that Buhari was complicit in the Emir’s alleged forceful removal from the palace and exile to Nasarawa are “nonsensical”.