Traditional institutions in Nigeria have been faced with the infamous challenge of undue interference by the political class as Governors have made it a duty to wield power often times excessively, over traditional rulers in their respective States.
Indeed, traditional institutions are not insulated from acts of executive lawlessness and brashness that has become characteristic of most state Governors in Nigeria.
The omission of the roles of traditional rulers in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has not helped matters and further placed them in a class of subservience to the political class.
Flowing from the above, the writer recalls the public outcry that greeted the dethronement and banishment of the 14th Emir of Kano, HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II; a consummate technocrat who had also eminently served as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria between 2009 and 2014.
The move which in many quarters was believed to be politically motivated, initially gained traction as a mere rumour before it was officially confirmed by the Kano State Government. Specifically, HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II was dethroned by the Executive Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Umar Ganduje on the 9th of March 2020 putting an end to his highly charismatic reign while his successor, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero was immediately appointed the 15th Emir of Kano by Governor Umar Ganduje.
As noted earlier, some news analysts attributed this move of the governor to the political tussle between him and the Emir while others maintained that it was because the Emir is one of his most vocal critics; the reason(s) however is not of immediate importance to this writer.
The paramount consideration and interest is that the manner in which the Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II was removed is illegal, unconstitutional and without recourse to the due process of law.
The egregious issue of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II’s dethronement recently again came to the fore at the Kaduna Investment Summit where he was carelessly addressed as former Emir of Kano, by the Chief of Staff to Governor Nasir El-Rufai, Mr. Sani Abdullahi.
Undoubtedly, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II being referred as the former Emir’ as it was ignorantly done in this case is not just derogatory but insulting to the person of Sanusi Lamido II.
Now, this brings us to an important question begging for a truthful answer which is whether Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II can be referred to as former Emir of Kano judging from the circumstances in which he was removed from office by the Governor of Kano State and if he can still retain the title of ‘Emir of Kano.
It is the writer’s opinion and prudently so, that Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II can technically be regarded as the Emir of Kano howbeit in the de jure sense while the incumbent can be seen as the de facto Emir.
Simpliciter, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II being the de jure Emir of Kano means his appointment was in accordance with the law and same subsists in the eyes of the law because his alleged removal cannot be said to be consistent with the extant laws of the land. Conversely, the purported appointment of the current Emir cannot stand the test of validity as it is not founded and grounded on due process of law.
For proper context, the circular announcing Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s removal as Emir reads inter alia “he was in total disrespect to lawful instructions from the Office of the State Governor and other lawful authorities, including persistent refusal to attend official meetings and programmes organised by the Government without any justification, which amounts to total insubordination. It is on record and so many instances, Malam Muhammadu Sanusi II has been found breaching part 3 section 13(a-e) Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and which if left unchecked will destroy the good and established image of the Kano Emirate. This removal is made after due consultation with the relevant stakeholders and in compliance with part 3 Section 13 of the Kano State Emirate law and order(sic) reasons stated above. The removal is reached to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano Emirate built over a thousand years”
It is admitted that the domestic law that applies in this instant case is the Kano State Emirate Law 2019 and a careful perusal of same has remained elusive, it however remains to be seen how Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II ‘disrespected lawful instructions and other lawful authorities’, this is highly subjective and a law that does not give any room for an opportunity to be heard is an unjust law, repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. In any case, this can be adequately redressed in a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Sections 36 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Furthermore, as is the sordid case often times in Nigeria where the rule of might appeals more than the rule of law, there was no observance of the procedure stipulated under the Kano State Emirate Law 2019.
Paraphrasing the relevant sections, the law provides among others that for an Emir to be validly removed, the alleged infractions must have been duly investigated by the Central Council of Emirs and if after such investigation, the Emir is found guilty, a recommendation for his deposition will be forwarded to the Governor by the Council of Emir who will now act on same.
It is an inescapable fact that these enumerated procedural requirements were not followed at all, not to talk of being followed to the letter, it is reflective of the unattractive mindset of those at the helms of governmental affairs in Kano State; they lack the capacity to come to equity with clean hands as evident in their non-compliance with this recently enacted law governing the Kano Emirate traditional institution.
It would have been ‘ingenious’ on the part of the Kano State Government if they had properly tinkered with the relevant provisions as to appointment, removal and deposition to suit and reinforce their draconian mindset as was the case with the ignoble military styled Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decrees. I am inclined to believe that the fear of yet another nullification of such law by the Court (if ever passed) was the beginning of wisdom for them.
It is pertinent to recall that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had earlier ordered the release of the deposed Emir, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II from the post-dethronement detention and confinement the state government had imposed on him pending the determination of the substantive issue.
This decision indicates that the apparent abuse of power by the Governor of Kano State in terms of the deposition of the duly appointed traditional ruler of Kano, HRM Muhammadu Sanusi II, will be adequately remedied if challenged in a competent court.
Again, with reference to the Kano State Emirate Law 2019, it does not make any sense in my considered view and more importantly, under the law, that one’s political opinions or advocacies for cultural reforms which are constitutionally guaranteed rights or failure to attend meetings with lawful justification will amount to total insubordination for which he can be removed as Emir.To this effect, the removal of HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II is void ab initio, the Governor of Kano State lacked the statutory power to effect the removal of His Royal Majesty and it can be said with every sense of legal reasoning that Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is and still remains the legally recognized de jure Emir of Kano as we speak while the person installed to take his place is more or less an impostor (or to mildly put it), the de-facto Emir of Kano.
Another prominent question that we should avert our minds to is, can there be two Emirs of Kano occupying the same traditional stool concurrently.
If your answer to this question is in the negative then you are not far from the truth because there is an undesirable possibility of having an authentic occupier of the throne whilst another can be acting in the de facto capacity.
While acknowledging the fact that Alhaji Lamido Sanusi II has clearly evinced his intentions not to challenge his dethronement in a court of competent jurisdiction, it is however apposite to restate that the constitutionality and legality of the dethronement of the deposed Emir by the Kano State Governor in the spotlight of the 1999 Constitution and other relevant authorities is clearly questionable.
Like I mentioned earlier, this instant synopsis is not to advocate for the re-instatement of the deposed Emir of Kano but it is a clarion call to set the record straight that due process of law must be followed in removing a traditional ruler and amends be made to forestall a reoccurrence of this reprehensible act in Kano or elsewhere as it is my humble submission that HRM Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II was not rightfully removed.
Also, it is imperative to state that it is not the interest of the writer to enquire into the reasons for the removal of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido II by the Governor of Kano State neither is it my desire to offer some mediatory services with respect to the impasse between the Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Umar Ganduje and Sanusi Lamido II but it serves the interest of justice that the writer, being an advocate of good governance, public spirited discourse and the due process of law, to firmly accentuate that laws are enacted to regulate the actions of officials, authorities and persons and there is a need for a strict compliance and adherence to these laws in order to suffocate anarchical tendencies.
Furthermore, as a strong believer in the traditional authority vested upon our traditional rulers by the Almighty God, I can rightly state that nothing short of woe awaits anyone that attempts for instance to depose the Ooni of Ife, or the Oba of Benin or the Sultan of Sokoto without recourse being had for the rule of law.
The point I am making is clear; Nigeria has gone beyond the era when British administrative officers appointed to administer Colonial Territories and Protectorates could at the shout of Jack Robinson, dethrone and deport native chiefs or emirs, restricting their movement to certain geographical locations within or beyond their domain in the name of the Queen of England.
In a constitutional democracy, the rule of law and respect for the civil rights and obligations of persons residing in this country must take the centre stage and repugnant laws and practices must give way to sacrosanct provisions of the Constitution. It smacks of lamentable impunity that the Constitution of our great country is observed more in the breach rather than compliance.
The blatant violation of the Constitution most especially by our politicians is responsible for the abysmal governance and traumatic convulsions currently pervading the political landscape.
Repetition they say is for the sake of emphasis; I hereby reiterate the salient point that the removal of Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II is illegal, null and void ab initio and to this effect, the deposed ruler can still be seen and regarded as the rightful Emir of Kano.