•Our case against ex-monarch – Ganduje
•Efforts to save him – Abdulsalami Report
•‘Buhari threatened emergency rule’
•Presidency source: How President stopped deposition bid in 2017
By Charles Kumolu and Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The deposed Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi opened up on the issues that led to his dethronement by the government of Alhaji Abdulahi Umar Ganduje.
Sanusi listed the issues to include lack of consultation with him on the creation of new emirates in Kano, the misconstruing of his public statements as being critical of government and the replacement of District Heads by Village Heads.
He told the committee that mediated truce between him and Ganduje that he believed other matters that caused disaffection in Kano included the treatment meted out to him and his supporters by the Ganduje administration, citing the embarrassment he received when the Emir of Bichi was announced as the Emir of Kano when he led the Oba of Benin on a courtesy call on the governor when the Benin monarch visited Kano.
The committee made 13 recommendations to end the rift between Sanusi and Ganduje in its report but all that now seems to have been overtaken by events following the emir’s dethronement last Monday.
The recommendations addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari included that the governor should dis continue any contemplated decision to suspend, depose, dethrone or remove the emir from office while Sanusi should subordinate himself to the authority of Kano State government.
It was not clear last night when Sunday Vanguard obtained excerpts from the committee report whether the Presidency was in possession of a copy or took any action on the recommendations.
But sources said Sanusi could have been dethroned as far back a 2017 but for Buhari’s intervention.
The committee, chaired by a former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, had 10 members.
The members include Alhaji Adamu Fika, Wazirin Fika; General Muhammadu Wushishi (retd); Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State (Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum), and Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State.
Others are Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, Alhaji Umaru A. Mutalab, Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida, Sheikh Sheriff Ibrahim Saleh, Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari and Dr. Adamu Fika who served as Secretary.
Meanwhile, only Abubakar, Wazirin Fika, Wushishi, Ibrahim, Tafida, Gambari and Adamu Fika signed the report.
Sanusi had been deposed on Monday by the Ganduje administration which cited disrespect to the authorities for the action.
The deposed monarch was immediately banished to Awe, Nasarawa State.
The banishment was, however, contested in court which, on Thursday, gave him interim freedom on the grounds of fundamental human rights.
Sanusi left Awe same day for Abuja where he reportedly flew to Lagos.
The truce committee, according to the report, held several meetings including its substantive meetings of December 19, 2019, January 11, 2020, January 28, 2020 and January 29, 2020, during which it met with Ganduje and Sanusi separately and together.
Three members of the committee also reportedly met with President Buhari who endorsed the truce efforts and sent a message through them to the two parties involved in the tussle that he “will not hesitate to declare a state of emergency in Kano should there be any breach of peace”.
The report acknowledged the efforts of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Northern Governors Forum and eminent Nigerians including Alhaji Aliko Dangote to resolve the impasse.
Recounting the meeting the committee had separately with Sanusi on January 28, the report said: “He (deposed Emir) said there were basically three issues that formed the bone of contention between him and the governor. First, he said, actions had been taken that negated the long history of Kano and seemed to undermine its culture and institutions. He treated the history of the Kingmakers of Kano going back to the receiving of flags from Shehu Usman Dan Fodio during the Jihad in 1804 and noted that the offices of these dignitaries have been diminished by the new measures that have been instituted by the State Government. The District Heads who have been in charge of their domains for ages have been deprived of this privilege by fiat.
“The Emir stated that he would not be opposed to the creation of new Emirates at Kano as a development strategy or measure had he been consulted and bought into the picture. He reiterated that at no time was he ever approached by anybody to discuss the matter. He also observed that there was no agitation anywhere for the creation of any Emirates, until an entity called the West African Law Society wrote a petition to the House of Assembly demanding for the creation of new Emirate. The expeditiousness with which the actions were taken and the way the law was posted through the House of Assembly was suspicious and surprising.
“Secondly, the Emir noted that there should have been a separation of his action such as public utterances that have been constructed as being critical of the governor and his government, and the creation of Emirates, which were two different things entirely. He observed that it was not necessary to destroy or seek to arbitrarily change a system that has subsised for a thousand years on the grounds of perceived non-confirmity by the Emir. He cited the upsetting of the hierarchy of traditional leaders whereby the Serki Gaya who is ranked 46th in the Emirate protocol and list of precedence has now superseded the Makaman Kano who is number six and by far his senior.
“The Emir furthermore made some observations regarding other appointments and office holders, where Village Heads have now been made to replace District Heads who have been appointed as far back as 65 years ago, and served as Kingmakers during several reigns. He reiterated as Emir he was complied to make those observation and register the grievances of his Senior Councillors and titleholders.
“Other matters that the Emir believed were causing disaffection in the State included the treatment that was being meted out to him by the State Government and the Governor\s supporters, illustrating such treatment, he said he recently wrote to the governor informing him of the visit by the Oba of Benin to Kano as normal courtesy and practice demanded. He said he was not given full cooperation and that on the contrary, when he visited the Governor in company of the Oba of Benin he was received by loud music announcing the Emir of Bichi as the Emir of Kano and the blaring of the message continued during the meeting with the Governor. He also informed the Committee that only the previous day, the Anti-Gorruption Committee on institution from the State Government, arrested the Treasurer of the Kano Emirate Council.
“On the creation of the new Emirates, His Highness expressed the view that the ideal thing to do was to reverse the decision and return to the status quo ante. He referred to the appointments of Sarkin Gaya and Serkin Rano by the former Governor Alhaji Abubakar Rimi who graded them Second Class Emirs, but was challenged in the Court by late Emir Alhaji Ado Bayero. The elevation of the Serkin Gaya and Sarkin Rano and others over the Madak in Kano and other Senior title holders in his view was a development that contravened the hierarchical arrangement of the Emirate system.
“As regards the concerns raised about his utterances, he owned up to the fact that in the past he had been vocal without meaning to the malicious in cause disaffection. He said immediately it became known that his statements criticizing the railway project that was said to cost $3 billion had caused embarrassment to the Governor and his administration, he reached out and apologized to him. He said governor Masari of Katsina, would been witness to that act of contrition.
“The Emir noted that since May 8, 2019, he had not said anything controversial at any time and has maintained his silence on all matters. Despite this he said, he was being maligned and abused while corruption investigations have been instituted against him. He also observed that the commencement of processes to remove him as the Emir of Kano are well known, but he noted that as Emir, he had very few roles left for him to perform most of which are in the areas of advocacy and public mobilization in matters related to education, poverty reduction etc. “He stressed that his roles which are various and different include actions on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on which he tried to shed light and assist in attaining solutions to societal problems like child marriages, divorce etc. He said those were like few things left for Emirs to do nowadays, since there are no more defined roles for them and every other thing has been taken away from them.
“The Emir also averred that he treated the governor with all due respect as his elder and political leader. He however noted that the State controlled media have been constantly making provocative statements and publicly insulting him, all aimed as denigrating his statues and creating public disaffection against him.
“The Emir also refuted the assertion, that he was manifestly partisan during the elections in Kano State at 2019. He said he was never asked directly by Governor Ganduje, nor was there any evidence produced to support such an assertion. He said like all other Emirs and traditional rulers across the country, all he did was to call for peaceful elections and observance of the laws of INEC. “He reiterated that he had never supported or preferred any one political party over, the other.
The Emir also said that some senior Council members came to inform him that they have heard rumors that if the governor won the elections in 2019 he would remove the Sarkin Kano and appoint a new Emir in his place. He said he sent the councillors to the governor to inquire from him if there was any problem between them. The Governor swore to them that the Emir had done nothing wrong to him and that all that was being said was baseless rumour.
“The Emir however observed that the moment the Governor won the election he started to carry out his design, which he had disowned earlier. He said there was a rumour of recording of his conversation with somebody allegedly interfering in the elections. He said all that he did was he tried to calm people and avert the possibilities of bloodshed after the inconclusive results were announced in 2019.
“After hearing the Emir’s presentation, the Committee was of the view that a breakthrough was in sight and that matters would be satisfactorily resolved with further dialogue and mutual understanding.”
The report also narrated what transpired at its separate meeting with Ganduje same day (January 28).
It said: “The governor proceeded to inform the committee of this own side of the case, by stating that from the outset the dispute was not between himself and the Emir of Kano, rather, he said it was a matter between the Kano State Government and the Kano Emirate Council and as it should be depersonalised and put in its proper context. “His Excellency therefore, called upon the committee to consider all historical factors and other variable whose interplay informed the decision by the state government to undertake the creation of the new Emirates, and the redeployment of District Heads.
“In recalling his relationship with the emir, the governor noted that he was the Deputy Governor of Kano State when the Emir was appointed under very controversial circumstances.
“He traced the critical roles that he went out of his way to perform in ensuring that the Emir was not only appointed, but also accorded protection in the charged atmosphere of the time, especially when rioting took place across Kano City after the announcement of his appointment. He gave the example of an incident where the Emir had to be relocated to the Government House at the command of the Deputy Governor to ensure his safety and that after a period of time he relocated to the palace under escort.
“His excellency also recalled that the disagreement between the Emir and the Kano State Government did not start with him. He said that under his predecessor, Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, matters came to head that occasioned the issuance of a query to the Emir.
“The Governor said he personally used his discretion as Deputy Governor and Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, to avert the admission of the query on the Emir.
“His Excellency also recalled other incidents especially the attacks against his person and his administration by the Emir, as attempts to undermine governance in Kano State. He recalled the utterances by the Emir on the rail line project in Kano as a serious embarrassment with the Emir at different occasions such as in Kaduna at the meeting with some state governors, and also at the instance of Alhaji Aliko Dangote but to no avail.
“His Excellency, furthermore, stressed that his government viewed the actions and utterances of Emir as capable of destroying the office that he inherited from his ancestors, and that his administration would not just stand by and let that happened.
“He recalled the incidents that led to the removal of the present Emir’s grandfather from office, on account of the report of a Commission Inquiry into the conduct of the late Emir. The Governor averred Kano State and the whole Nation needed peace and stability, and therefore, leaders should not do anything to disturb the equilibrium f the society.
“His Excellency asserted that in the present dispute with the Emir, he was under investigation and that the Governor was in possession of reports about the Emir’s conduct in office, and that if he was compelled to use such evidence, the Emir would surely be removed from office and nothing would happen. He, therefore, hoped that the meeting with the Committee would be the last that he would hold on this matter.
“On the creation of new emirates, the governor maintained that the decisions of the state government were driven by some salient factors, namely the need to spread the benefits of the emirate system across the state; historical conditions particularly considerations like the case of Rano which was a First Class Emirate; the genuine aspiration and yearnings of the populace to which the government was bound to respond.
“With regards to the calls for review of the law, His Excellency was of the view that consultations with officials and stakeholders would have to take palace.
“He said although the state government followed all due processes in enacting he law, he would however, consider the calls for its review in response to the request of the Committee. He however, noted that the intransigence shown by the emir in refusing to call for a meeting of the Council of Chiefs was a matter of concern to the government.
“With regards to the position of the kingmakers, the governor maintained that they were still in their respective positions but remaining as Kingmakers of Kano Emirate. He said they have not been removed from their office and their titles have not been taken away from them. However, they were simply deployed from their erstwhile domains. “The governor further noted that the Kingmakers historically were not assigned to any districts but resided in Kano.
“His Excellency asserted that compared to the dramatic changes that were brought about by the Fulani Jihad that toppled the Habe rulers in Kano, the actions taken by his administration were very slight and minor administrative reconfigurations. In that regard, he was of the view that the adjustments called for in the boundaries of the Emirates should be brought about to satisfy the entire people of the state, and not to cater for the interests of individuals only.
“The governor disagreed with the claims that he was destroying one thousand years by his actions. Rather he pointed out that his administration was actually bringing about a real reform that would lead to peace and development of the state. “He maintained that the boundaries occupied by the Kano Emirate consisted of eight Local Government Areas (LGAs) , which are among the most populated zones in the state or anywhere else in the North. “He further underlined his belief that the traditional system is about development, inclusiveness and progress, and therefore must be used prudently and wisely rather than as a platform for spewing hatred and discord.
“Concerning the ongoing litigations against the measures adopted by the state government, he said the government welcome stopping all court cases. He however, made it plain that his government had nothing to fear about the court proceedings. But bringing about an end to the litigations would be the best step forward, he emphasised”.
At the follow-up meeting with both Sanusi and Ganduje on January 29, the committee found that the frequent utterances of the deposed emir caused disaffection and embarrassment to Kano government and the Federal Government while relations between the two parties reached the lowest level and it became clear that Ganduje was about to dethrone Sanusi.
It recommended, among others, that all actions capable of bringing about an escalation of the dispute between the Governor and the deposed Emir, whether directly or carried out by proxies, should be hailed in the interest of reconciliation and resolution of the conflict.
President’s truce bid
In a related development, revelations emerged at the weekend that Buhari made frantic efforts to save Sanusi from being deposed, but the efforts hit the rocks.
Sources within the Presidency claimed that the President, on many occasions, tried to mediate on the feud between the former emir and Ganduje and even wrote a letter to the governor for the amicable resolution of the differences between them.
According to the sources, the hardlines taken by the two actors in the matter frustrated the President’s efforts coupled with the bad blood generated by the 2019 elections.
The sources that preferred anonymity said that contrary to allegations of collusion to remove Sanusi, the Presidency 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.
One of the sources at the State House said that when the Ganduje administration made up its mind to remove Sanusi as far back as 2017, the Governor informed President Buhari of the decision.
The source said when the governor asked for advice and guidance,President Buhari outrightly told the governor that it was inappropriate and requested that the plan be shelved.
One of the sources said, “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.”
Continuing, the source said, “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.”
It was gathered that Ganduje gave conditions for peace, including the withdrawal of court cases by Sanusi against the state government.
“Sanusi allegedly accepted to withdraw some of the cases, but stood his grounds 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”, one of the sources said.
“ 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 Ganduje rejected.”
The source, however, said the Abubabar Committee report didn’t give any “glimmer of hope” for ending the crisis, adding that “a mediator’s success depends largely on the cooperation of the parties involved.”
Despite these frustrations, the source, who said they have been following up on the matter, said that the President didn’t give up on the efforts for peace.
The Presidency official said that when the Chief of Staff led a delegation to condole the former Emir over the death of Ambassador Sanusi, the late Dan Iyan Kano, the former Emir’s uncle, Abba Kyari, 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 was uncharitable and baseless to accuse Buhari of ordering Ganduje to depose Sanusi.
“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.”
Explaining further, the source said that the allegations that “Abuja,” referring indirectly to President Buhari, was complicit in the Emir’s alleged forceful removal from the palace and exile to Nasarawa were equally “nonsensical.
“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.”