Investigations into alleged fraud in the selling of the Gandun Sarki land had recently pitched the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, against the state’s Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission (PCACC).
The investigation, coming barely a year after Emir Bayero ascended the throne, is similar to the corruption probe that shook the reign of his predecessor, Muhammadu Sanusi II.
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This time, it is the sale of 22 hectares of land at Gandun Sarki, Dorayi Karama, in Gwale Local Government Area of the state and alleged diversion of the money into private royal pockets that have landed the Kano royals in hot waters.
But the Kano Emirate Council had in its reply to enquiries from PCACC said it never approved the sale of the land and so, the purported sale was null and void.
Court papers in a suit filed by the alleged buyer, Alhaji Yusuf Shuaibu Aliyu, to restrain the anti-corruption boss from stopping construction works, had indicated that the Emirate Council sold 14 of the 22 hectares to him at N200m while the heirs of the late Emir Ado Bayero sold the remaining eight hectares to him at N575m.
The court case as well as a petition from the Dorayi Development Association had triggered the PCACC investigation, which observers said could turn out to be an albatross for the new emir just like his predecessor.
The Chairman of the PCACC, Muhyi Magaji Rimingado, had in an earlier interview confirmed that the commission is investigating the Council and all those involved in the transaction.
But the council had in its letter dated April 15 and signed by Alhaji Abba Yusuf, the Council’s Secretary, said it “views with great concern some allegations made against certain individuals, some of whom are employees of the Council. Accordingly, the Council has started its own investigation into this matter, the outcome of which will be made available to your commission.”
Subsequently, the Council implored the anti-graft commission “to please bear with it and exercise due restrain [sic] pending the outcome of its investigation.”
The commission would later question the trio of Kabiru Sarki Waziri (son of Danrimin Kano), Isa Sunusi Bayero and Awaisu Abbas Sunusi, after insisting that the Council’s administrative investigation could not stop its ongoing criminal investigation.
It was, however, gathered that elders in the state have intervened in the matter with the aim of saving the royal family from further public resentment, akin to what it suffered during the dethronement saga of former Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II.
The intervention, it was further gathered, will give the three persons fingered as the orchestrators of the sale of the land a soft landing as long as they refund the money collected from the alleged buyer of the property.
Like Sanusi, like Bayero?
While there are other variables that differentiate the present development from what led to the dethronement of Emir Sanusi, allegations of fraud in the sale of royal assets and the “probe” by the state anti-corruption commission are familiar routes.
The PCACC had investigated the dethroned Emir and the Kano Emirate Council on the sale of landed properties belonging to the Emirate Council.
But before the probe, it was obvious to observers of development in Kano State that there was no love lost between the dethroned Emir and the state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
And while the probe by the PCACC rings a familiar tune, one thing the current Emir has in his advantage is his perceived cordial relationship with the governor.
This, it was gathered, may be the reason for the silence from Governor Ganduje and his appointees while the investigation rages.
Down history lane
The Kano State government dethroned Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll on March 9, 2020 over allegation of disrespect to the office of the governor and other government agencies, bringing to an end the battle between the governor and the emir despite reconciliation efforts by notable Nigerians including that led by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and business mogul Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
Sanusi, who was named the new emir of Kano in June 2014, spent 5 years, 9 months and 2 days on the throne.
The clash between him and the governor had started long before May 8, 2019 when the governor signed into law a bill for the creation of four new emirates, all of which used to be districts under the Kano Emirate Council.
Sanusi, a former governor of the country’s apex bank, had been critical of some of the policy decision of the state government including seeking foreign loans and was alleged to be working against the re-election bid of the governor.
But the government had said the dethronement was because of “his (Emir) 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,”
Historians noted that the dethronement of Emir Sanusi II had a similar undertone with the dethronement of his grandfather, Muhammadu Sanusi I, by the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
It was said that the older Sanusi and Bello were allies but fell apart due to some political differences.
According to Malam Idris Basheer, a Kano-based historian, Alhaji Isa Kaita, who was the Northern Region’s Minister for Works and later Minister of Education, was one of the closest advisers of the premier and was dispatched to Lagos to inform the then Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, about the plan of the Sardauna to depose Emir Sanusi.
“When he got to Lagos, he met the then Prime Minister in company of his five ministers – Alhaji Muhammadu Ribadu, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Zanna Bukar Suloma Dipcharima, Alhaji Maitama Sule and Alhaji Tudun Wada. The ministers advised against the premier’s decision. Upon delivering the message, the Prime Minister told Alhaji Kaita that the Sardauna should not act that way. However, Kaita told Tafawa Balewa that he was there to inform them that Sardauna had made up his mind, and was not going back,” revealed Idris.
It was on record that Emir Sanusi was in 1963 dethroned and banished to Azare in present Bauchi State. After the deposition of the Emir, the Turaki of Kano and district head of Dawakin Kudu, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Abbas, became the Emir. His reign was less than 12 months before he died.
According to a political analyst, Comrade Hassan Bello Jaja, the second crisis between the state administration and Kano Emirate was in the Second Republic when a radical approach to governance by the PRP led to the emergence of Abubakar Rimi as governor of Kano State in 1979.
He said records revealed that on April 1, 1981, Rimi created four new emirs who were declared to be co-equal with the Emir of Kano at that time, the late Alhaji Ado Bayero (father of the present Emir of Kano).
The four new emirates were Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano while hitherto emirates of second-class status, namely Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure, were promoted to first class status.
This move was seen by many as an attempt to reduce the influence of Kano Emirate to the lowest level.
Rimi, it was gathered, then declared emirs to be “mere public servants working under the directives of their local government chairmen.”
As an offshoot of this development, Emir Ado Bayero was queried on April 7, 1981 via a letter dispatched to him by the then Secretary to the Kano State Government, Sule Yahaya Hamma, accusing the emir of not respecting the government’s invitation and refusing to show up at the venue of a celebration marking the first anniversary in office of the Kano State House of Assembly.
Other allegations were the extension of his 1981 annual leave beyond what was approved, refusal, in spite of invitations, to attend or send representation to the installation ceremonies of the Emirs of Gumel, Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano.
The emir was given 48 hours to forward his defence and to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him.
It was gathered that the next day, Mansur Kankarofi, Kano State secretary of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the ruling party at the federal level, issued a press statement saying: “the people of Kano will not allow one of our most respected institutions to be eroded by irresponsible people who by sheer political accident happen to be in the control of the Kano State Government.”
The affair completely left the terrain of Kano radicalism and became instrumentalised in a vicious battle between the NPN and the two factions of the PRP.
On July 10, 1981, thugs attacked and killed 34 people and burnt organisations they felt were articulating government propaganda, including Kano Radio and the Triumph newspaper offices. The thugs searched for and assassinated Dr. Bala Mohammed, political adviser to the governor, who was writing the whitepaper that would have led to the removal of the emir.