Berliner Tageblatt - North Nigerian state bans protests over royal power struggle

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North Nigerian state bans protests over royal power struggle
North Nigerian state bans protests over royal power struggle / Photo: © AFP

North Nigerian state bans protests over royal power struggle

A northern Nigerian state governor on Wednesday banned protests and public rallies to prevent a power struggle between two rival royals over a traditional throne spilling into violence.

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Emirs in the mostly Muslim north, as well as Obas or kings and other traditional rulers in the predominantly Christian south, have no constitutional authority but they wield huge cultural and religious influence.

The northwestern city of Kano, capital of Kano state, has been caught up in drama after governor Abba Kabir Yusuf restored former emir Muhammadu Sanusi II to the throne, four years after he was deposed by the previous governor.

Sanusi's successor Aminu Ado Bayero was removed on Thursday along with four other emirs after Kano assembly lawmakers amended the emirate law of 2019 that put them in place.

But Bayero returned to Kano and declared himself the legitimate emir, citing a court order restraining his dismissal pending a hearing in early June. But a Kano high court ordered him to desist until the June ruling.

With the standoff fuelling tensions among their rival supporters and political backers, Kano governor Yusuf "imposed stringent restrictions on all public gatherings intended for protest", a statement from his office said.

The governor had credible intelligence that opposition politicians were looking to sponsor "political agitators" to incite chaos in support of the dethroned emir Bayero, the statement said.

"The state government has explicitly outlawed protests, demonstrations, or processions of any kind, and individuals found on the streets of Kano engaging in such activities will be promptly apprehended."

The police in Kano vowed to enforce the ban "will all sense of vigour".

"Police personnel have been put on red alerts to ruthlessly deal with any situation as any form of security threat in the state will not be tolerated", a police statement said.

- Nigerian 'Game of Thrones' -

Both royal rivals are backed by political foes.

Sanusi is linked to former governor and Kano political godfather Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, whose New Nigeria People's Party or NNPP now controls the governorship.

Bayero is backed by local Kano representatives from President Bola Ahmed Tinubu's ruling All Progressives Congress or APC party.

Both parties squared off in national and regional elections last year for control of Kano, the state with the second-largest number of voters nationally and a key political fiefdom.

Sanusi has moved into the emir's palace where he now holds daily court, while Bayero is staying in a royal guest house a few kilometres (miles) away where his supporters pay their respects.

Both palaces are heavily guarded by military and police personnel.

Tagged a Nigerian "Game of Thrones" by local media, the royal standoff shows how traditional rulers are increasingly becoming tools of political power in Africa's most populous country.

N.Fournier--BTB