The probe of the finances of the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi-led Kano Emirate by the State government has brought to the fore the interplay between political and traditional institutions, writes Olawale Olaleye
The recent announcement by the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-corruption Commission that its investigation into the Kano Emirate was suspended had earlier brought some kind of relief to the emirate. The respite was however fleeting as the State House of Assembly is equally investigating the emirate. Thus, in line with Section 16 of the Commission’s operational guideline, the state agency had to suspend its own action for the legislature.
Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Muhuyi Magaji Rimin Gado, told THISDAY in a phone conversation that the suspension of the investigation by the commission had become both imperative and compelling, saying “We could not continue as the House was also conducting an investigation. We wrote to the House seeking details about the content of their investigations,” he said.
He would later hint that the agency had achieved 80 per cent success into the investigation of alleged misapplication of N6 billion by the Kano Emirate Council, adding that the commission had also recorded a “water tight case against the emirate council” over the allegations of financial misappropriation. We have also identified our primary suspect in the course of the investigation,” he said. He however declined to name the suspect.
He reiterated that the commission had only suspended the probe to avoid a “crisis of concurrent investigation with the state House of Assembly and possible litigation by interested parties.” He would go on to add that the commission had discovered that “all the monies allegedly spent were not appropriated for contrary to the Kano State Emirate Council Law 2004.” Yet, the law requires the council to prepare annual budgets and submit same for appropriation by the legislature.
But the Kano Assembly, which recently set up an eight-man committee to investigate some of the allegations against Sanusi has tried to rationalise its intervention.
Speaker of the assembly, Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, constituted the panel following a point of order raised by the member representing Nasarawa constituency, Ibrahim Ahmad Gama. The lawmaker alleged that Sanusi had spread false information on the trip of the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, to China recently to hold discussions on a light rail project in the state. He also insisted that the statement attributed to the emir was capable of tarnishing the governor’s image, the state government and that of the assembly.
“The emir during his speech in Kaduna, alleged that the Kano State governor and his entourage, including me as the Chairman of the House Committee on Works, wasted one month in China seeking a loan to construct the light rail project. The emir’s statement was not true, we spent only four days in China, and our visit was to find out the capacity of the company to handle the rail project.
“His allegation has brought a lot of insults to my person, the state government and the House of Assembly by the general public in and outside the state,” he said, further taking a swipe at the emir for sending his daughter to represent him at a function organised by the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group in Abuja. He described it as inimical to the tradition of the Emirate Council.
“There are many responsible Emirate Council members, who could have represented him at the programme. This is the first time we are seeing such in the history of the traditional home,” he added.
Importantly, he accused Sanusi of getting involved in political issues, the misappropriation of the Emirate Council’s funds and making statements against President Muhammadu Buhari. It was this submission that gave rise to the committee mandated to investigate the allegations. The committee was given two weeks to report back to the assembly.
Conversely, there is nothing wrong in making the emirate accountable especially where it is established that the leadership is profligate. But there is something curious and indefensible about the timing, coupled with the issues that are muddled up against Sanusi, in what appears a premeditated move to nail him.
Had the probe agency or the assembly taken this initiative prior to Sanusi’s statements that were later found to be politically offensive, this debate about the probe would have been unnecessary. But clearly, what he said at the Kaduna Summit was what gave rise to the move to probe him, perhaps, to silence him completely and make him defer to the state government.
There is no debating the fact that the emir is truly neck-deep in completely extraneous political issues and is also expected to tread carefully in that slippery turf. But to want to clandestinely gag a man of his status and standing would be counterproductive to the emirate and also lead to the perception of the government as grossly intolerant.
Both the state agency and assembly sound like they have an axe to grind with Sanusi. It is therefore unlikely that the probes would serve the cause of justice due to the perceived biases of those involved. Indeed, it appears that the probes are aimed at serving the interest of the government, which seems not comfortable with Sanusi.
Interestingly, there is a very sensitive political slant to this also. Sanusi was installed emir by former governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, who also made sure his former deputy, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, succeeded him. Sadly, both Kwankwaso and Ganduje are no longer in good terms. Thus, leading to the view in some quarters that the probe is a proxy war between the two political gladiators. It is against this backdrop and other unintended undercurrents that the state government must approach the matter with circumspection. While the entire emirate and state government await the outcome of the probe, the issue should be handled with great caution so as not to plunge the emirate and the entire state into crisis.