Junaid Mohammed

•’He should never have been Emir’
•Says the South encouraging deposed monarch

By Bashir Bello

Second Republic lawmaker and notable Kano elder, Dr. Junaid Muhammad II, in this interview, says dethroned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II should never have been king.

Among the reasons he gives, Junaid also provides a rare insight into the dethronement of Sanusi’s grandfather, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I, explaining how he ensured that the late monarch was released from where he had been banished to in Azare. He establishes a nexus between the conduct of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I and Muhammadu Sanusi II.

You are a known critic of Emir Sanusi. Has his dethronement justified your criticisms?

I endorsed his dethronement because I believe it was the only way out given the circumstances he has pushed Kano into.

The people who are his real masters in the South have been encouraging him. It is a matter of public record. It is out there in the public space. He should never have been made the Emir of Kano.


He is reckless. He is ignorant of our culture because he never stayed long in Kano. If you don’t know the culture of a people, you can never be their traditional leader. He never knew anything about Kano.

There is a historical precedent in his lineage in the royal family. His grandfather was famously deposed by his best friend, then- Premier of defunct Northern Region, the late Ahmadu Bello ,Sardauna of Sokoto. It was Ahmadu Bello, who in 1953, as leader of government business, influenced the appointment of his grandfather who was his friend. Sardauna was the prince of Sokoto while Muhammad Sanusi I was the prince of Kano. They became very close friends. When the vacancy arose, Sardauna did his best to make sure his friend was appointed the Emir.

Muhammadu Sanusi I

The British, on record, did not want Muhammadu Sanusi I to be the Emir of Kano because they felt he was high handed and had no respect for constituted authorities, including that of his father, the late Abdullahi Bayero. They said they were afraid given the relationship between the British Colonial administration and the old Kano Emirate. They said the man never differentiated between what belonged to the government and what belonged to him. He became Emir of Kano in 1953. It became impossible for him to continue beyond 1963. One, at the time he was Emir, the agitation for the creation of Kano State began. Kano people wanted Kano Province converted into Kano State. He just thought it was a personal affront to him.

Jailing people

He started jailing people recklessly because, in those days, the Emir could sit in judgment in court, even though he had no legal background and whatsoever. He jailed people in Kano metropolis, Ringim, Gwaram (now in Jigawa State) and Bebeji among others. People were jailed for not paying taxes. That was how he governed Kano. The British were embarrassed and took copious notes which were sent to the Colonial Office in London. It became impossible for him to continue. By the time Nigeria became independent in 1960 and Sardauna emerged as the prominent political leader of Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), he could not turn his face away from the realities of what this man constituted. A commission of inquiry was appointed and headed by a British Colonial Administrator, David Macpheth. He was a Senior Divisional Officer, who came to Kano and held public sitting for months. All the facts and excesses came to light. It became clear that the man was guilty.


The report was taken to Kaduna and submitted to then-Northern Nigeria Executive Council. It was impossible for Sardauna to defend him. And Sardauna himself told my father that after the recommendation and adoption of the recommendation of the inquiry which was also distilled and christalised by the Council, they decided to sack him as the Emir. The governor of Northern Nigerian Governor, Sir Kashim Ibrahim, was asked to summon him to his official residence. He was summoned and told his offences. And he was asked if he had any defence. He said no. Did you commit these offences, he said he did. He (Sir Kashim Ibrahim) asked him if he was prepared to resign or be removed forcibly. He said he was prepared to resign. The papers were ready and so he was served the papers and he wrote “Bismillahi” meaning in the name of Allah and he signed. From there, he was taken away the way Sanusi II was taken away, except that he (Sanusi I) was taken from Kaduna to Azare in Bauchi State while Sanusi II was taken to Nassarawa State.

Suffered under him

At one of the meetings of the national directorate of Peoples Redemption Party,PRP, I moved that in the event of our winning the election in 1979, we would bring the deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi I, and keep him in Wudil. We did that. I remember very well that many of the old Northern Elements Progressives Union ( NEPU) people, who suffered under him, didn’t want to support the move. Kano people were clearly not keen about it. Anyway, it was adopted and we sent a delegation to bring the Emir from Azare. The delegation was led by the late Sabo Bakinzuwo. We were informed by the then-State Director of defunct National Security Organisation (NSO) Phillip Adekeye that some members of the PRP who were of the old NEPU were planning to take him to the palace. And that would have meant war and Kano has a history of even a civil war.

Until he died

At least, we knew one major war that was fought in Kano between some factions of the palace. We didn’t want to inflict that kind of bloodshed on Kano people, especially on an institution that was essentially moribund. I had to go with Philip Adekeye to Wudil, when they were coming we stopped them. We directed them to go to the place we had planned for him and that was where he stayed until he died. Now, if there is anything to be said, his side of the royal family owes me something. And they know they did not influence me to bring the deposed Emir to Wudil. Those who didn’t want Sanusi II to be the Emir were just against his character.

He had been jumping from pillar to post among the Shiites and Izallah movement among others. And in Kano, they want to know where you belong and can predict what you could do. The first time I heard the name of El-Zakzakky, it was from Lamido Sanusi, who was trying to introduce me to El-Zakzakky. Now, the rest is history. Look at the kind of mayhem El-Zakzakky causes.

If Kano people don’t like him, they have their own reason because it is a question of leadership and morals, crimes and punishment.

READ ALSO: Sanusi sues IGP, DSS DG, AGF over illegal confinement

Kano people are not comfortable with leaders whose morals they found obnoxious and he is a typical example.


One of the conditions the British gave to traditional rulers was that they should not be involved in politics and they agreed. This was written and given to them through the Sultan of Sokoto and other principal Emirs. Many of them derived their authority from either the Sultan of Sokoto or the family of his younger brother, Emir of Gwandu. And they were consistent. When they got an Emir who was high handed, they did not hesitate to remove the person.

Are you insinuating that he was partisan?

Of course, he participated in politics. There are audio and video where he was calling on people, his District Heads and Village Heads to tell people who to vote for and who not to vote for. He never denied the fact he was involved in partisan politics. All he was saying was quoting verses from the Quran that if somebody does you harm or evil you should please forgive him and so on. But he offends government and constituted authorities.

A man, who has been appointed Emir by only four people, cannot claim to be the leader of a state with 17 million people. If he is not prepared to stand by the norms of the traditional authority, he has no right to be the Emir of Kano.

Do you agree with those who said he violated the traditional, cultural and religious values of people of Kano State?

Absolutely, he cannot deny the things he has done.

His dethronement is justifiable. When there was an attempt to harass the late Ado Bayero by the Rimi administration, they didn’t wait. The moment the query was served, Kano people acted. As far as I am concerned, his dethronement was the right thing to do. It should have been done earlier. In fact, I would say he should never have been made the Emir. Buhari supported him to be Emir in spite of all that.

Buhari supported him to be the Emir quote me. Buhari has learnt his lesson and that is why he washed his hands off Kano local politics.

So Buhari was right to have said he won’t intervene in the feud between Sanusi and Ganduje?

Absolutely. If Sanusi’s supporters and the media are ignorant, Buhari is not ignorant. He is a former Head of State and knows that when Kano people have made up their mind there is nothing you can do about it. You either follow them or you step aside.

That is the reality of the nature of Kano people. They will follow you like blind people but when they say no, that is all. That is why people said the late Aminu Kano was the man who taught the Talakawa how to say no. There were several attempts to hold massive demonstration against the Emir but some prominent people said no. He came out to say people should not breed too many children. How many children does he have? He has 24 children at his age. And this is the person who is telling people not to have too many children. His mother alone has 10 children.

Can that kind of person with that pedigree come and start preaching to people not to have many children? For instance, I have a son and three daughters and I am now 70. I can’t see myself having children now when I am in my 70’s. I have no intention of doing that. He missed out on a typical Hausa Fulani culture. He knows nothing about it.

That was why in the beginning, I said he was not qualified because he does not know the culture of the people. He only understands Lagos life. To the average Kano man, his culture and religion are superior to the constitution of Nigeria. Besides, what was done as far as dethroning him was absolutely constitutional and proper. And he has said he has accepted it.


By definition, the Emir is an employee not even of the federal government or state government but of a local government. He cannot travel without the permission of the Chairman of the local government. And this arose from the 1986 report on the late Sultan of Sokoto, Dasuki. And that is in accordance with the law. The law has been recognised by the constitution. If we are to go back to those days when the traditional institutions are not even mentioned in the constitution that is when people can start making noise. Kwankwaso finds it convenient to say that it was Buhari or whoever that is behind the dethronement. But he also queried Sanusi II when he was the governor of Kano State.

But Kwankwaso denied ever querying Sanusi…

The letter was done by his deputy who is the current governor of the state. It is a question of personal honour. If you do something, take responsibility for it. He can never convince anybody that his relationship with the dethroned Emir was smooth. It was not smooth. It was very turbulent because he was not prepared to listen to the advice of the four kingmakers and other notables in the city when he made him the Emir.

That is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that the then deputy, who is now the governor, is a superb administrator who rose to become a commissioner three times. He has a PhD in Public Administration. Whatever is your attitude towards him, the fact remains that he has decided with the overwhelming support of Kano people.


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