The battle between Gov Abdullahi Ganduje and the banished Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II started in the early days of the governor’s first tenure, writes Deputy Political Editor RAYMOND MORDI.
THE feud between Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and deposed Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II came to the fore in March 2017 when the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission opened an investigation into the accounts of the Kano Emirate Council. The council was accused of making questionable expenditures amounting to about N6 billion.
The palace on April 24, 2017, released a breakdown of how the N4 billion was spent. It took the intervention of five northern governors, four days later on April 28, to get Ganduje to sheathe the sword. The meeting between the two parties and the governors took place in Kaduna.
By May 10, 2017, however, the Kano State House of Assembly set up an eight-man committee to investigate the deposed Emir over alleged abuse of office and improper conduct. The palace responded eight days later indicating that Emir Sanusi II would appear before the House of Assembly committee if invited.
The House of Assembly on May 22, 2017, announced that it was suspending its investigation on Ganduje’s request following the intervention of the then Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State Abdulsalami Abubakar, ex-Senate President Bukola Saraki, ex-Speaker Yakubu Dogara, business moguls Aliko Dangote and Aminu Dantata, as well as national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The 2019 governorship election was also a source of discord between the duo. Following the declaration of the contest inconclusive on March 12, Sanusi called for calm and seized the opportunity to express his gratitude to the then Kano State Commissioner of Police Muhammad Wakili. But, by April 7, after he triumphed at the supplementary elections organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ganduje accused Wakili of being biased against the APC. After Ganduje’s narrow victory at the polls, indications that the discord was far from settled surfaced. For instance, on May 2, 2019, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission invited one of the Kano Emirate’s officials, Alhaji Isa Bayero, to explain some payment vouchers bearing his name from 2013 to 2017.
Similarly, the Kano State House of Assembly Speaker, Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, on May 5, read a petition by Mallam Ibrahim Salisu Chambers, requesting the House to create four additional emirates in the state. On May 8, last year, the House of Assembly passed the law for the creation of four additional emirates and transmitted the same to Ganduje who promptly signed it on the same day.
However, on May 10, last year, a Kano High Court stopped Ganduje from going ahead to implement the new law. In spite of the court order, the following day, the governor presented letters of appointment to the four new upgraded emirs. On May 12, 2019, Ganduje presented the staff of office to the four new emirs
To add more pep to the supremacy battle, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission on June 2, last year recommended the suspension of Emir Sanusi II. Similarly, on June 5, the Kano State government queried the Emir asking him to explain within 48 hours his stance on the alleged misappropriation of N3.4 billion by the emirate.
In furtherance of the peace moves, Ganduje and Sanusi met in Abuja for a dialogue on June 7. The move was initiated by Alhaji Aliko Dangote and the chairman of Nigeria’s Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. But the ding-dong affair continued. On June 17, last year, Sanusi replied the query issued to him by the Kano State government over alleged misappropriation of N3.4 billion. The next day, Ganduje said at the Presidential Villa in Abuja that he and Sanusi had started ‘understanding each other’.
But, the power tussle continued. On November 21, 2019, a Kano State High Court presided over by Justice Usman Na’Abba dissolved the four new emirates created by Ganduje. In contrast, on December 2, last year, the Kano State Executive Council approved a new Emirate Council Bill, 2019, which provided for the establishment of four additional emirates in the state.
Three days after, the new Kano Emirates Council Bill, 2019, creating four additional emirates were signed by Ganduje.
On December 8, 2019, Ganduje appointed Sanusi to chair the Kano State Council of Chiefs. Eleven days later (December 19), the Kano State government demanded that Sanusi II should indicate his “acceptance or otherwise” of his appointment as chairman of the council of chiefs.
Sanusi II lost his bid to restrain Ganduje from dethroning him. A Kano High Court presided over by Justice A. T. Badamasi, on December 17, turned down an application seeking for extension of an order restraining Ganduje from dethroning emirs in the state.
At this point, it had become obvious that the two parties were irreconcilable. In a follow-up bid to the onslaught from the Ganduje side, the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission in January 2020 launched a probe of the Emir over the alleged sale of landed properties belonging to the Kano Emirate Council.
Though Sanusi secured a minor victory on February 21, when a Federal High Court in Kano quashed the preliminary report by the State Public Complaints and Anti-corruption Commission seeking his suspension, the Emir suffered a big setback when the Kano State House of Assembly, on March 4, launched a fresh probe against him over alleged violation of “some Hausa norms, culture and traditions”.
Two days earlier (March 2), the Kano State government had directed the Emir to immediately initiate a process of posting the four Kano kingmakers as district heads of local governments under his jurisdiction.
On March 6, when a Federal High Court in Kano restrained the state’s Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC) from investigating the traditional ruler.
After Sanusi’s long-running battle with the Kano State authorities, Ganduje succeeded in dethroning and banishing him from the ancient city on Monday.
But, that may not be the final word, as the dethroned Sanusi has yesterday returned to the courts to challenge the Kano State government over his banishment. The deposed emir has issued a 24-hour ultimatum for his release. His lawyer, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), told reporters at a news conference in his chambers that the Kano State government would be sued if Sanusi was not released within 24 hours.