Nigeria’s Lamido Sanusi is dethroned for a second time for ‘disrespect’

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, one of Nigeria's most influential Muslim traditional leaders, has been removed from his throne.

Getty Images of Emir of Kano
Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II,

Lamido Sanusi was pushed out of the Nigerian Central Bank for calling out massive corruption. He has lost his position as Emir of Kano in similar circumstances.

“I love controversy”, said Lamido Sanusi, during conference in 2014, hours after accusing the NNPC of diverting billions of dollars while he was running Nigeria’s Central Bank. Intelligence officials seized his passports, and he was quickly kicked out.

After warring publicly with the Governor of Kano State for many months, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II was officially dethroned today with immediate effect, for disrespecting the office of the governor and other government agencies.

UPDATE: Sanuso is now in ‘internal exile’, arrested and taken to Nassarawa State, according to reports.

A press release signed by Alhaji Usman Alhaji, Secretary to Kano State Government, stated: 

“The Emir of Kano is in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the office of the state Governor and other lawful authorities, including his persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the Government without any lawful justification which amount to total insubordination.”

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria from 2009-14, was crowned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II on 9 June 2014, becoming the 14th Emir of the state.

He has publicly clashed with the Kano State Government on several issues.

In late 2018, a video of Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje accepting dollars from a contractor in the state, supposedly a bribe, began circulating. Although the case never got to the State Assembly, Sanusi repeated speeches about good governance left no room for friendship between the two leaders.

Sanusi has condemned corruption and misgovernance among Northern elites, and has controversial views on polygamy and family planning, which anger many in conservative northern Nigeria.

He has been a vocal proponent of modernising the North. “For me, Wahhabism and Salafism have a certain intolerance in common with groups such as Boko Haram. […] Islam in Africa has its own schools of thought, its ancient empires and its own history. And we have no need for Saudi Arabia and Iran to explain Islam to us“, he told The Africa Report in 2016.

As leader of the Tijaniyya branch of Nigeria’s Sufi Muslim community, Sanusi is now the second-most-important islamic leader in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto, who heads the Qadiriyya branch.

Ganduje already attempted to reduce the Emir’s influence by creating additional first-class emirates in the state (the Emir of Kano was previously the only first-class Emir).

Now, he has removed him from the position completely.

Popular figure

Although official statements from government officials across the country have been few, many citizens took to social media to express their views, with some expressing hope that Sanusi’s next step could be to run for president in 2023.

Satirist, lawyer and novelist @elnathan_john tweeted: “I keep saying though, I will never understand why Sanusi chose to become emir when he could have been so much more. Maybe this is a sign. Leave this dying institution where a barely literate man can embarrass you, rise to a place where you can actually have nationwide impact.”

Senator @ShehuSani, human rights activist and author, tweeted:

“The removal of Emir Sanusi represents the incompatibility of the crown and conscience, the consequences of dissent against established norms and the heavy price of holding principles in our north. It also revealed the intolerance and toxicity of the liquor of power.”

Lamido Sanusi is a popular figure in both north and south of Nigeria, as well as in international circles.

Analysts will be looking at whether or not the actions of Ganduje will be endorsed by President Buhari and the ruling APC.


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