Flashback: Dethroned Emirs in Northern Nigeria 

 A number of emirs in northern Nigeria have lost their positions for diverse reasons since the end of the Sokoto Caliphate

With the arrival of the colonial powers, traditional institutions in what is today Nigeria lost their power, influence and affluence to the modern system of governance.

After Nigeria’s independence, political leaders who succeeded the colonialists continued to prove their power over once all-powerful traditional institutions.

In the wake of the ongoing Kano Emirate tussle, WikkiTimes chronicles prominent northern emirs that had been dethroned since the 1960s for various reasons, ranging from political interference, conflicts with the government, to internal disputes within the traditional councils.

List of Emirs Dethroned

First is emir of Kano, Sir Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi I. The premier of the northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello dethroned him on April 10, 1963. He was one of the most influential emirs of his time and an ally of the premier. The reasons for dethronement reportedly included political disagreement with Sardauna (Ahmadu Bello), his former associate and allegations of financial mismanagement.

Second is Alhaji Umaru Abba Tukur. The emir of Muri in Jalingo of Taraba State. Colonel Yohana Madaki (rtd), the then Governor of defunct Gongola State, sacked him on August 19th 1986. Madaki was believed to have been backed by the then military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

Third is the emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris. In 1992, Mohammed Dabo Lere, the then Kaduna state governor suspended the emir before reinstating him later. Emir Idris ruled Zazzau Emirate for 45 consecutive years with the exception of his suspension.

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Fourth is the Sultan of Sokoto, Ibrahim Dasuki. The Sultan serves as the leader of traditional rulers in northern Nigeria and the spiritual leader of Muslim faithful in Nigeria through the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs which he chairs. Late General Sani Abacha deposed Dasuki on April 20, 1996. Although no official reasons were advanced, it was believed to be politically motivated.

Fifth is the emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Haruna Jokolo. He ruled in Gwandu emirate of Kebbi State before Governor Adamu Aliero dethroned him on June 3, 2005. His removal had been since linked to political conflicts with the then Kebbi State Government.

Other Emirs

Sixth is emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He appropriated the name of his grandfather, Muhammad Sanusi and he self-rechristened as Muhammadu Sanusi II. After his stint as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, he inherited his ancestors as the 14th Emir of Kano in the Fulani lineage. The then governor Abudllahi Umar Ganduje removed him as the emir on March 9, 2020. Ganduje accused him of insubordination but it was believed that his social commentary and criticism of certain government policies and projects did not go down well with the Kano State Government. 

Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf reinstated Muhammadu Sanusi on May 23, 2024.

Seventh is emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero. In March 2020, Governor Ganduje removed him as emir of Bichi and elevated him to Emir of Kano. Governor Yusuf removed him alongside the emirs of Bichi, Alh. Nasiru Ado Bayero, emir of Gaya, Alh. Aliyu Abdulkadir, emir of Karaye, Alh. Ibrahim Abubakar II and emir of Rano Alh. Kabiru Muhammad Inuwa on May 23, 2024 after he assented to a 2024 Kano Emirate Law which repealed 2019 law that balkanized Kano emirate into five distinct emirates. Emir Aminu is challenging his removal which led to power struggle among the Kano royal family.

The reasons for the depositions vary widely, including political, financial, and administrative issues, reflecting the often-contentious relationship between traditional rulers and political authorities.

These experiences depict power change in the relationship between the traditional institutions and the political establishment in the North.  

Today, the traditional authority operates at the mercy of modern political structures in Nigeria. 

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