No To Political Persecution, Emir Sanusi Must Face Criminal Prosecution, Muyiwa Olayinka

By Muyiwa Olayinka

Governor Ganduje

Governor Umar Ganduje has not left anyone in doubt; he wanted to see the successful prosecution of Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, after he was sworn in for second term. Many including this writer viewed this action as political, bearing in mind the way Ganduje won his reelection. It was a rancorous and controversial election marred with violence that brought him back.

But recourse to the interim report submitted by the panel that investigated allegations against the Emir, has shed more lights and cleared doubts that it is more of a criminal act rather than political persecution and witch hunting.

Background Information and Crux of the matter 

Muhammadu Sanusi II (formerly Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) is the 14th Emir of Kano, who was crowned on 8 June 2014 after the death of his granduncle Ado Bayero that died on 6 June 2014. Emir Sanusi was a banker and former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). He was appointed on 3 June 2009 for a five-year term, but was suspended from office by the then President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan on 20 February.

The Emir of Kano serves as the leader of the Tijaniyya sufi order in Nigeria, historically the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto who is the leader of Muslims in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Emir of Kano is the head of Kano Emirate Council.  The Administrative management structure of Kano Emirate Council was designed to have the Emir as the head but has district, village and ward heads.

The Kano Emirate is a traditional state in Northern Nigeria with headquarters in the city of Kano. The Emirate of Kano Council was formed in 1903 after the British pacification of the Sokoto Caliphate.

Ado Bayero became the Emir in 1963, reigning for 50 years until his death in 2014; he oversaw the transformation of the Emirate under Nigeria’s federal constitution. Under Ado Bayero, the fund of the Emirate was managed prudently and it grew exponentially to meet its statutory functions. The Kano Emirate Council Fund is regulated by the provisions of Kano State Emirate Council Special Fund Law 2004.

With this act, the Emirate Council fund is partly financed by contributions of 3% of its monthly statutory allocation by every Local Government Council in the State annually. The state has a total of 44 local government area councils.

Also the State Government contributes an amount equal to ten percent (10%) of the total contribution of the Local Government Councils in the State to the fund.

Some of the objectives of setting up Fund are: 

(a) For the payment of salaries, remuneration, allowances and other fringe benefits of the persons described in the schedule,·

(b) To defray all expenses of working and managing the affairs of the Council and its properties;

(c) To defray the cost of such works of a capital nature as the Council may deem necessary from time to time,·

(d) To grant loans and make advances to the persons on such terms and conditions as the council may approve and

(e) To defray operational expenses that may be incurred in the course of the general administration of the funds.

It was alleged that Emir Muhammad Sanusi II embarked on indiscriminate spending spree utilizing the Emirate’s fund for not intended purposes. The petition was written by Concern Friends of Kano Emirate dated 28th March, 2017 on allegation of Financial Misappropriation by Kano Emirate Council under the Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II.

Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission constituted an investigative panel to look at the books of the Emirate council between year 2014 and 2017 and it came with a damning report that N1.45b was fraudulently spent without following extant rules and due process. Some of the expenses that are extravagant in nature from year 2014 to 2017 are listed below:

More than N117m was spent in fueling of generators by the Emirate Council

More than N105m was transferred from the Emirate council to personal account of Mr Sunusi Tijani, the Technical Officer to the Emirate Council without due process.

More than N54m were expended by the Emirate Council from 2014 to 2017 on payment of airtime/data to Airtel Network Ltd. mostly on personal phone numbers. Out of the total amount, N29m was incurred by the Emir, his wives and Mannir Sanusi, a relative of the Emir.

More than N144m was spent on Hotel Accommodation, payment of chartered Aircraft and payment of Air ticket by the Kano State Emirate Council from 2014 – 2017. Out of this sum more than N30m was spent on Chartered flights while more than N113m was spent for hotel accommodation and air ticket for the Emir’s travels. Fictitious payments were made to some companies that are not registered with Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

In its summary report signed by the Chairman, Magaji Rimingado, the Commission submitted that the Kano Emirate Council under the Chairmanship of the Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II has expended the sum of (N1, 450,641,048.53) only in various expenditures that is believed to be fraudulent and not appropriated. In the course of carrying out its investigation, the Commission accused the Emir of frustrating its task and his uncooperative attitude; hence it recommends the suspension of the Emir to carry out further investigations into the matter. 

I believe as a responsible public servant, the Governor of the state will not fold his hands and allow such weighty allegations against a foremost traditional ruler to be swept under the carpet. For those who say the timing is suspect, I ask when it is the right time.

A query has been issued and sent to the Emir to state his side of the story. Meanwhile, it was reported that eminent personalities are trying to mediate between the two to give the Emir a soft landing.

This is the bane of our society and Nigeria in general. It is trite to say that the system was designed to favor the 2% of the elites in cornering our common patrimony to the detriment of the majority of 98%. 

The majority are living in squalor and battling with poverty and diseases while the minority elites easily fritter away our resources and go scot free. A poor man will steal a paltry sum of money and will be sent to jail while the rich steals billions and will be given a slap on the wrist.

Just like any other public institutions that are funded by the public and are consistently mismanaged by “typical Nigerian Big man, the Emirate council fund has suffered the same fate under the leadership of the former Central Bank Governor.

This is not the first time Emir Muhammad Sanusi is accused of meddling with public funds. He was queried by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) for the mismanagement of the apex bank’s fund and subsequently suspended by Former President Goodluck Jonathan. In a deft political move, he diverted attention from himself and alleged billions of dollars was missing in NNPC’s coffers.

Lovers of Nigeria must insist this scandal must be thoroughly investigated by appropriate authorities and all culprits be brought to book. We must resist political coloration of an alleged criminal breach. This is how to sanitize and have a sane society that will not be protecting the rich from facing criminal justice.    

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