The influential traditional ruler of northern Nigeria’s largest city of Kano was removed from his position on Monday after a long-running row with the authorities.
The emir of Kano is by tradition the second most senior Islamic ruler in Africa’s most populous nation, after the sultan of Sokoto.
Lamido Sanusi, who ascended the throne in 2014, was accused of “disrespect to lawful instructions”, the state government said in a statement.
The government said his removal was also to safeguard the “sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige” of the Kano state emirate established over a millennium ago.
The deposed Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, was reportedly been arrested and banished to a community in Nasarawa State. The Nation reports that shortly after his dethronement was announced, security operatives arrested Sanusi and whisked him out of the ancient city amidst tight security.
Sanusi, a former head of Nigeria’s central bank, has been at loggerheads with state governor Abdullahi Ganduje because of his outspokenness against the authorities and allegations he supported the opposition at last year’s elections.
Ganduje won re-election as governor and quickly ordered the creation of four new emirates in Kano in a bid to reduce Sanusi’s control and influence.
Emirs have no constitutional role in Nigeria, but they wield enormous king-like influence over their subjects.
Their funds come from state government, and politicians rely on their support during elections.
The traditional ruler has been probed by state lawmakers for allegedly misappropriating funds meant for his office.
The embattled emir denied the charges.
Last month, the outspoken ruler accused political and religious leaders in the north of not doing enough for the region, which he said widened the poverty gap between the mainly Muslim north and the majority-Christian south.
The moves against him by the authorities have caused tempers to flare among his supporters.
The regional parliament descended into violence on Monday as lawmakers exchanged blows over a fresh probe against the emir, which the opposition rejected.