Your Excellency

My attention has been drawn to the query you sent to the emir of Kano yesterday giving him 48 hours to respond to the interim report of the Kano State Anti-Corruption Commission. The language and content of the query indicates clearly an intention to act quickly on the report, hence my decision to write you this public letter. Kano has been living under serious tension since May 8, when the process of dismantling the Kano Emirate was initiated by your administration. The said process is a real risk for the people of Kano and I write to humbly request that you disengage from this adventure for the following reasons.

First, Nigeria faces numerous security threats in different parts of the country and our security forces are overstretched in trying to respond to the threats. Kano has traditionally been a very volatile State but has been relatively peaceful over the past few years. It is important that as governor, you take a lead in keeping the peace. This means that you should not take any action that could destabilise peaceful coexistence in our State, knowing fully well that anger, disaffection and opposition to the dismantling of the emirate could lead to the breakdown of peace. Your excellency, please recall that this idea of dismantling the emirate had been tried previously.

It would be a terrible outcome if history holds you responsible for the destruction of Kano’s historical legacy. The emirate has existed as a kingdom since 999AD and was absorbed into the Sokoto Caliphate following the Jihad of 1804-1807. It has since emerged as the most influential emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate under the control of the emir of Kano…


On April 1, 1981, Governor Rimi created four new emirs who were declared to be co-equal with the emir of Kano – those of Auyo, Dutse, Gaya and Rano. The emirs were becoming a crowd in the old Kano Sate as the other emirs of second-class status namely, Hadejia, Gumel and Kazaure, were also promoted to first class status. Abubakar Rimi then declared emirs to be “mere public servants working under the directives of their local government chairmen”. On April 7, 1981, the secretary to the Kano State government, dispatched a query to the emir of Kano, saying:

“I am directed by the Governor of Kano State, Alhaji M.A. Rimi to write to you and express his displeasure and that of his government in the way you relate to or respond to government instructions. The community expects of you as a matter of right to show respect to constitutionally elected government which is the vehicle of exercising the popular sovereignty of the community which is provided for by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It has thus been observed by the government that since the inception of this administration in 1979, there had been series of acts that appear to indicate you deliberate disrespect to the government of Kano State….. In the circumstances therefore, I have been directed by the Governor of Kano State to request you to forward your defence in 48 hours and to show cause why disciplinary action should not be take on you.”

Following the query, 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. Over the past two months, the activities of thugs have multiplied in Kano and it is in no one’s interest to create conditions that could lead to the breakdown of law and order.

Secondly, Kano emirate has an illustrious legacy whose demolition should not be on your watch. It would be a terrible outcome if history holds you responsible for the destruction of Kano’s historical legacy. The emirate has existed as a kingdom since 999AD and was absorbed into the Sokoto Caliphate following the Jihad of 1804-1807. It has since emerged as the most influential emirate in the Sokoto Caliphate under the control of the emir of Kano, traversing the entire territory that is now known as Kano State. The emirate is a melting pot, a mosaic of diverse ethnicities and traditions within Nigeria and Africa. Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II is the 57th ruler of Kano and embodies all that history and is considered as one of the most important Islamic authorities in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto. It is a religious role, but it also one that has tremendous influence as an advisory role to political authorities and is also a key contributor in the delivery of justice and other public services. This state of affairs should not be destabilised by your excellency.

…the allegations of financial impropriety against the emir appear to have no basis in fact, except for the historical recollection that it was the stratagem used to remove Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I from office. As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses can through stones, even recklessly, but there could be consequences.


Thirdly, you should step back from your actions to respect the rule of law. You would recall that Honourable Justice Badamasi had on May 23 restrained the governor of Kano State from taking any action or further action in the implementation of the Kano State Emirs and Deposition Amendment Law 2019, which was passed recently by the State House of Assembly or from doing anything that will adversely affect the kingmakers or the emir of Kano, pending the hearing of the Interlocutory Application for Injunction. There are two other court hearings that are on-going and a State governor should not act in contempt of judicial proceedings. As it has been argued in court, there is the serious risk of irreparable damage that will be done to the people of Kano if the recent actions you have taken are not reversed. Clearly, the idea that the House of Assembly could establish new emirates is based on a fundamental misconception that the Kano Emirate itself is a creature of statute. There is no law that specifically establishes the emirate, which exists merely as a historical fact and is recognised as part of the tradition and cultural heritage of the Kano people. The precipitate action of the House of Assembly in the hurried passage of the said law in a matter of 48 hours, with no opportunity for any public participation and your defiance of court orders in proceeding to implement and appoint new emirs, despite your knowledge of the proceedings before the court and the service of the court orders, is simply wrong and unbecoming of a governor.

As the lawyers to the Kano kingmakers have argued, under the purported amendment of the law, the House of Assembly completely omitted the provisions relating to the appointment of an Emir by replacing Section 3 of the existing law with a new Section 3, which only deals with the creation of the State Council of Chiefs and the purported creation of the four new emirates. No section in the new law specifically empowers the governor to appoint or even confirm the appointment made by the kingmakers. In any event, there is no evidence that indeed the kingmakers exist in the new emirates or that they ever met to appoint and recommend the appointment of new emirs to the governor for confirmation. The legal grounds for the actions you have taken are therefore non-existent, hence the necessity for you to step back.

Finally, the allegations of financial impropriety against the emir appear to have no basis in fact, except for the historical recollection that it was the stratagem used to remove Emir Muhammadu Sanusi I from office. As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses can through stones, even recklessly, but there could be consequences. The people of Kano are very much aware of other real allegations of corruption, which even have video evidence.

Your excellency, I urge you to consider these four issues seriously, hoping that the arguments would lead you to the preferred outcome of stepping back from the path of dismantling the Kano emirate and removing our revered emir.

Yours Sincerely

Jibrin Ibrahim

A professor of Political Science and development consultant/expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development, and Chair of the Editorial Board of PREMIUM TIMES.