Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the influential traditional ruler of Nigeria’s largest northern city of Kano has been removed from his position and exiled on Monday following a long-running argument with the authorities.
By tradition, the emir of Kano is the second most senior Islamic ruler in Nigeria, after the sultan of Sokoto.
The state government in a statement accused Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who ascended the throne in 2014 of disrespect to lawful instructions. The government said his removal was also to safeguard the “sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige” of the Kano state emirate established more than a millennium ago.
Lamido Sanusi was taken into custody by police in his palace immediately after the announcement was made, and then escorted out of the city to neighbouring Nasarawa state under tight security.
Lamido Sanusi, who is a former head of Nigeria’s central bank, has been at loggerheads with state Governor Abdullahi Ganduje due to his outspokenness against the authorities and allegations that he supported the opposition at last year’s elections.
Ganduje won re-election as governor and quickly ordered the creation of four new emirates in Kano in a bid to reduce Sanusi’s control and influence.
Emirs have no constitutional role in Nigeria, but they wield enormous king-like influence over their subjects. Their funds come from state government, and politicians rely on their support during elections.
Lamido Sanusi Response and New Kano Emir
Aminu Ado Bayero, Emir of Bichi Emirate (one of the four controversial emirates created to lessen Emir Sanusi’s influence), has been appointed by the state government as the 15th Emir of Kano. Chiroma of Kano, Nasiru Ado Bayero, took over as Emir of Bichi.
In his first comments since being deposed, Lamido Sanusi called for calm and for people to embrace the new Emir. In a video message, he said: “God in His infinite Wisdom had willed that I will become an Emir of Kano, so I was enthroned on the 8th of June 2014. I spent almost six years on the throne. But today God has also willed I will leave the throne. I have taken it in good faith”.
No Violence Reported So Far
The regional parliament descended into violence on Monday as legislators exchanged blows over a new probe into the emir, which the opposition rejected.
The moves against him by the authorities have caused tempers to flare among his supporters. However, there has been no reports of protests or violence from Sanusi Lamido supporters following his removal, in contrast to previous cases.
Riots broke out in Kano in 1963 when Lamido Sanusi’s grandfather was dethroned by the then northern regional government for insubordination.
Deadly violence erupted in the city in 1981 when the government queried Sanusi’s predecessor Ado Bayero in an attempt to depose him.
In his earlier role as central bank chief, Sanusi earned a reputation as a straight-talking moderniser, not afraid to speak out against corruption, although he faced – and denied – accusations of graft himself.
He was sacked from that position in February 2014 after he accused the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of not remitting some $20bn to state coffers.