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How Palace Guards saved Emir of Kano’s life

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By Jide Ajani & AbdulSalam Muhammad, Kano.

…Ado Bayero responds positively to treatment in London hospital

Penultimate Saturday, history chose to repeat itself with fatal precision. This is about the story of two Emirs of Kano, whose body guards paid the supreme price for the safety of their temporal lords. In the afternoon of February 2, 1903, the Palace of Emir Alu, then Emir of Kano, was besieged by the British.

Their mission was to extract surrender from what appeared to be the last bastion of defence for the ancient city.  Having convinced itself of the bounden duty to conquer the city in the quest to appropriate the massive land of Kano for Her Majesty , the British troops, under the command of Colonel Moorland, finally invaded the palace.

But they did not bargain for what was to follow.

Two Royal Guards, Sarkin shanu Dan’Gwari and Salama Jatau, put up a resistance that was at once shocking just as it slowed down the conquest of the city.  At the end of the day, it turned out to be a futile resistance. In the duel that ensued, rather than allow the British to easily overrun the palace, Dan’Gwari and Jatau fought to the end.  They died, trying to save the palace of the Emir of Kano.

14 days to that day 110 years after, a similar event of murderous proportions played itself out. But this time, it was not at the palace of the Emir. It was right in the precinct of religious and spiritual obeisance, a prayer place, a mosque.

The revered Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, was just about leaving Masalacin Murtala area of the Kano metropolis where he had gone to attend a Qurfanic graduation ceremony when bedlam struck.

The Emir had barely spent 10 minutes there when it was time to leave. There was no premonition that something dastardly was about to happen.

Gunmen, operating on motocycle (Okada), opened fired on the Emir’s convoy as the cars made to leave the area. The Emir, said to be hypertensive by palace sources, was hit by a bullet on his right hand. His blood pressure shot up immediately after.

Perhaps, had the guards not shielded Emir Bayero, the assassins’’ bullets would have riddled his body.  And he may have passed on.

The Emir’s vehicles riddled with bullets during the attack. Inset: Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero
The Emir’s vehicles riddled with bullets during the attack. Inset: Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero

Narrating the attack, a security source said the guards in the entourage of the Emir had, in line with tradition, fired their dane guns to signal the monarch’s exit after the programme when some gunmen detonated a bomb. The explosion triggered pandemonium. “The blast”, the source said, “was followed by sporadic gunshots on the convoy by four gunmen operating on motorbikes’’.

In the process, Bayero’s official vehicle was shelled by the attackers. In the milieu, the Emir’s driver and three guards lost their lives.

The guards, identified as Ahmadu Magayaki, Barde Sarkin Ruwa and Dan’muri Sarkin Kano, died while trying to shield the Emir from the assassins’ bullets. Others who died in the shooting were the Emir’s driver; the eldest son, Sanusi Ado Bayero, was also badly hit by bullets. Other wounded sons were identified as Turakin Kano and Ciroman Kano.

The guards formed a human ‘Wall of Berlin’ around Bayero while the gunmen continued their shooting.

Everything lasted barely two minutes. According to a security source, “the casualty on the part of the royal guards was high because of their display of gallantry in the face of terror. Despite the danger, they massed round the Emir until he was rescued to the back up car and ferried away from the spot”.

A title holder and member of Kano Emirate Council, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the palace guards literally gave their lives to save the monarch.

According to him, ‘’the fearlessness they displayed saved this city from being plunged into an orgy of mayhem’’.

The traditional title holder, who was in the Emir’s entourage during the ugly incident, explained that the “guards formed a human shield round the monarch during the volley of fire”, adding that “they stood their ground until the Emir was rescued to a back up vehicle.

“From what I saw at close range, it was evident that the casualty figure on the part of the guards was bound to be high”,he said, but was quick to add:  ”We are lucky many of them survived though with gunshot injuries”.

Later that evening, physicians were invited to attend to the Emir in the palace and the prognosis was that he needed a better medical attention as he was said to have relapsed into a very high hypertensive mode.

He was flown abroad that Saturday night. He was believed to have been flown abroad with his eldest son. Reports from palace sources indicate that Alhaji Bayero is responding well to treatment.

In fact, the mood ‘’inside the palace is one of joy because most people were very apprehensive when it became clear that the best thing to do penultimate Saturday would be to fly him abroad; but the reports reaching us show that the royal father is doing well; the same thing for his sons, Sunday Vanguard was told.

As for the palace guards and the Emir’s driver, funeral prayers were held at the Emir’s palace last Friday.

The prayer session attracted top flight politicians, captains of industry, traditional rulers, artisans and thousands of urban dwellers.

In the meantime, Gov. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State has donated the sum of N1 million and a three-bedroom flat each to the families of the aides of the Emir who lost their lives during the attack on the convoy.

Presenting the cash and allocation forms to the next of kins of the slain palace guards, Governor Kwankwaso said the gesture was aimed at alleviating the sufferings of the bereaved families, stressing that  his administration had always been compassionate to the families of those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Dr. Kwankwaso disclosed that the gesture of the state government would also be extended to the four other people who sustained injuries during the attack.

”Apart from donating N1 million and a house to each of the three families of the slain guards, government has decided to give four people who suffered injuries the sum of N250,000 each,” the governor said, revealing that he had  also directed the Kumbotso Local Government to arrange a similar gesture for the families of the late Interim Management Officer (IMO) of the council and his aide, who were also killed during the attack which came barely one year after a coordinated attack on Kano by terrorist left scores dead.

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