Northern Nigerian Breaking News

EDITORIAL: Who will rescue Northern Nigeria monarchs from dethronement?

Four years after he was dethroned by ex-Governor Abdullahi Ganduje through a unanimous vote of the Kano Executive Council, the current governor of the state Abba Yusuf, reinstated the dethroned Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi.

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, 62, was installed in 2014 by then-Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, who is the political godfather of current Governor Yusuf. 

He succeeded Ado Bayero, the father of Aminu Ado-Bayero, the man who was appointed following his own removal.

Aminu Ado-Bayero who was Emir of Bichi with the creation of five emirates by the Ganduje-led administration held the throne as Emir of Kano until the recent development that led to the reinstatement of Sanusi II.

READ ALSO: North central states domestic debts reduced significantly in Q1, 2024 

elsamad new

Since then, there have been back and forth in the courts over the legality of the dethronement of Aminu Ado-Bayero and the reinstatement of Sanusi.


Like many conventional politicians in Nigeria, Ganduje had several disagreements with Sanusi during his reign as emir. In fact, he accused the monarch of supporting his political opponents. 

So, in 2019, Ganduje moved to reduce the size of the emir’s domains by reducing its size and appointing additional emirs at the same level as the Emir of Kano.

He later accused Sanusi of insubordination and his removal was necessary to preserve the prestige of the office. 

But the incident wasn’t the first and apparently not likely to be the last. 

Prior to the colonial era, traditional rulers played the roles of administrators of the local councils as governors of their villages. They relied on their chiefs, community elders and family heads for easy administration, 

They later served as agents of British colonialism. While the Obas and Baales in Western Nigeria were agents of indirect rule, the Emirs in the North and the Warrant Chiefs in the East exercised delegated powers.

Over the past couple of decades, traditional rulers in Nigeria have seen their influence and powers watered down from the height they occupied in the pre-independence era and immediately after independence. The military incursion in 1966 dealt the first blow to the influence of the traditional rulers.

The 1976 local government reforms further stripped traditional rulers of their constitutional role, and the framers of the 1999 constitution did not include the institution in the document.

However, traditional rulers are still respected in many communities. They mediate between the people and the state, enhance national identity, resolve minor conflicts and are responsible for preventing robberies and kidnappings in their domains. 

Pattern of dethronements 

Without any constitutional backing, Nigerian monarchs have had to fight battles with constitutionally recognised leaders such as military heads and democratically elected leaders. In most of the cases of dethronement, monarchs were accused of perceived insubordination to political powers in the land.

In 1963, Muhammadu Sanusi I, grandfather of Sanusi II was dethroned nine years after he became emir. He was accused of insubordination to the political authorities at the time. Years later, many suffered the same fate. 

Another Northern monarch who was dethroned for perceived insubordination to the governor of the state was Umar Tukur, emir of Muri. Muri was under old Gongola State, which was governed by Yohana Madaki at the time.

Madaki had accused the emir of inappropriate conduct in the palace but historians said it was because the governor thought the emir too hot-headed to handle.

READ ALSO: Euro 2024: Switzerland knock out defending champions Italy  

The state was later divided into Adamawa and Taraba in 1991.

In 1996, Ibrahim Dasuki – the then emir of Sokoto was also dethroned by the military government under Sani Abacha because he refused to live by the dictates of their rules. He was dethroned and banished from the state.

In another instance, the 19th emir of Gwandu, Mustapha Jokolo was dethroned by the Kebbi state government in June 2005. He was accused of making reckless statements “capable of threatening national security.” He was also said not to be on good terms with other traditional rulers in the state, and had allegedly abandoned his throne and relocated to Kaduna with his family.

The state government wasted no time in appointing a new emir, although a Kebbi state high court later ordered the reinstatement of Jokolo in 2014, about nine years later.

Smilarly, in July 2023, the Bauchi State government sanctioned six traditional rulers over alleged gross misconduct and partisanship.

Governor Bala Mohammad approved the dismissal of two district heads and four village heads from Bauchi and Katagum Emirate Councils over the proven allegations against them.

He said the dismissal was based on their involvement in partisan politics, misconduct, and illegal forest reserve encroachment/tree felling.

“Misappropriation of public funds and insubordination, which is contrary to the public service rules,” he added as other reasons for the disciplinary action against the affected persons.

The names of the traditional rulers dismissed from Katagum Emirate are Aminu Malami, district head of Udubo, and Bashir Umar, district head of Azare.

Others are Umar Omar, the village head of Gadiya, and Umar Bani, the village head of Tarmasawa.

Those dismissed in Bauchi Emirate are Bello Sulaiman, the village head of Beni, and Yusuf Badara, the village head of Badara.

Earlier this year, the Kogi State Government deposed four traditional rulers, including a first-class traditional ruler, the Ohimege Igu, Konto-Nkarfe, and Alhaji Abdulrazaq Koto.

Koto was subsequently banished to Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.


SolaceBase observed that the arbitrary dethronement and replacement of traditional rulers does not only weaken their authorities in the Northern region but also send a message that they are easily dispensable.

Over the years, traditional rulers have been disempowered by various administrative “reforms” that have only served to weaken their influence and render their role ineffectual.

READ ALSO: eNaira: Three years after, Nigeria’s digital currency struggles to be adopted

As the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has raised concerns about an alleged plan by the Sokoto State Governor, Ahmed Aliyu, to depose the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, Vice-President Kashim Shettima had addressed the matter during the north-west governors meeting in Katsina on Monday. 

He described the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, not merely as a monarch, but as an institution that must be “jealously guarded and protected”.

The Sokoto State Government must ensure that Nigeria does not witness a repeat of what is happening in Kano as such a move would be catastrophic for the nation’s stability.

It is high time that Nigerian political leaders focused more on issues affecting helpless and hopeless citizens than power struggles with traditional institutions. It is nothing but misplacement of priorities that hampers development at local levels. By the way, there haven’t been clear cases of criminal activities by monarchs or genuine threats to the well-being of their communities.

While the practice of governors dethroning traditional rulers based on perceived political allegiances or personal grudges should be condemned, traditional rulers should also see themselves as a father to all and be apolitical. 

Lastly, the traditional institutions in Nigeria must be strengthened and protected from the influence of elected officials. The ongoing constitutional amendment process should incorporate traditional institutions into the document to avoid their removal arbitrarily.


Comments are closed.