Muhammadu Sanusi II Nigerian lawmakers probe outspoken Emir of Kano

The eight-member committee is expected to report its findings to the state house of assembly within two weeks.

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The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II (centre) faces allegations of embezzlement, abuse of office and improper conduct play

The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II (centre) faces allegations of embezzlement, abuse of office and improper conduct

(AFP/File)
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Lawmakers in northern Nigeria have opened an investigation into corruption claims against one of the country's leading traditional rulers, whose progressive views have caused controversy in a conservative region.

The local legislature in Kano state on Wednesday set up a committee to probe eight allegations against the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, over the "embezzlement of funds belong to the emirate council".

Other claims include abuse of office and improper conduct.

The eight-member committee is expected to report its findings to the state house of assembly within two weeks.

The announcement came two weeks after the Kano state anti-corruption agency began looking into the finances of the state-funded emirate council -- the equivalent of a royal court.

That probe centres on the use of six billion naira ($19 million, 17 million euros) of palace funds to pay for luxury cars, chartered flights, phone and internet bills as well as other personal expenses, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The council has denied the allegations.

Supporters of the emir, who before his appointment in 2014 was governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, claim he is being targeted for his progressive views.

Muhammadu Sanusi II, paraded through the streets of Kano with his entourage during the July 2016 Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan play

Muhammadu Sanusi II, paraded through the streets of Kano with his entourage during the July 2016 Eid al-Fitr festival marking the end of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan

(AFP/File)

The Western-educated ruler has broken with royal tradition, speaking out about the need for social reform in a deeply conservative region, pitching him against political and religious interests.

The state assembly investigation comes after the house committee chairman on works, Ibrahim Ahmad Gama, listed the eight accusations against the emir.

Image 'tarnished'

In his motion, which was supported by a majority of lawmakers, Gama accused Sanusi of "introducing strange religious issues and involvement in politics".

He accused the ruler of claiming Kano state governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and lawmakers mismanaged state resources on a trip to China to secure $1.8 billion in funding for a light rail project.

"We only spent four days (in China) and our mission was to find out the capability of the company to handle the rail project but not to secure any loan as alleged by the emir," Gama told the assembly.

Sanusi criticised the light rail project last month at an investment forum attended by Ganduje and other northern governors.

Gama said the emir had tarnished "my image, that of the state government and the assembly".

The Emir of Kano (centre) is accused of sending his daughter to represent him at public functions instead of royal aides play

The Emir of Kano (centre) is accused of sending his daughter to represent him at public functions instead of royal aides

(AFP/File)

He also accused Sanusi of "intentionally attacking President Muhammadu Buhari whenever he got an opportunity to speak at a public gathering", which he said contravened the culture of the traditional ruler.

Sanusi had come under public criticism for sending his daughter, Shahida, to represent him at public functions instead of royal aides, as is the usual protocol.

Last month, there was outcry when she read his speech at a three-year anniversary of the kidnapping of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram.

Gama said her appearance "tarnished the image of the emirate" and "downgraded the honour of the emirate council".

"The mode of dressing of the emir's daughter at the event was an embarrassment not only to the emirate council but the entire people of Kano," he added.

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