Jonathan orders SSS to release Emir Sanusi’s passport

In what appears the end of the fierce face-off between President Goodluck Jonathan and the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, the State Security Services has returned to the Emir his travelling documents seized from him on May 3 at the height of his disagreement with the President.

The Senior Special Assistant to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso on Chieftaincy and Emirate Council Affairs, Tijjani Mailafiya, told journalists the SSS returned the Emir’s passport through the director in charge of its Kano state command, Bassey Itang.

Mr. Mailafiya commended the Federal Government for releasing the passport six months after it was seized at the Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano as the Emir made to board a Turkish airline flight for a planned trip to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj.

He said with his passport now in his possession, the Emir was now better placed to serve his people locally and  abroad, when necessary.

The SSS had confiscated the Emir’s travelling documents as he made to board the May 3 11: 10p.m. Turkish Airlines flight to Turkey where he would have connected another flight to Saudi Arabia.

The agency’s action was a contravention of the April 3 judgment of a Federal High Court in Lagos, which restrained it and the Nigeria Police from arresting or harassing the then CBN Governor or seizing his passport.

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Mr. Sanusi had sued after the SSS seized his passport on February 20 shortly after he arrived Lagos from Niger, where he had gone to attend a meeting of governors of central banks in the West African sub-region. He had then been suspended from office in absentia.

Shortly after his plane landed at the ExecuJet Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, he was accosted by SSS operatives who detained him briefly and insisted he must surrender his passport.

Speaking on the release of the passport Saturday, Mr. Mailafiya  thanked the Kano state government for being in the vanguard of those who pressed for the release of the document.

Some Nigerians may however see the handing over of the document as President Goodluck Jonathan’s direct gesture of saying everything is now alright between him and the Kano Emirate Council.

After nearly a year of bitter relations, President Jonathan and the Emir met on October 30 in Abuja and reconciled differences that once drove both men to the extremes of their offices.

Sanusi, a former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, was fired by the president on February 20 after accusing the government of diverting $20 billion oil revenues.

The government denied the claim, and in turn, accused Mr. Sanusi of “financial recklessness”.

After leaving office, Mr. Sanusi was appointed the Emir of Kano in June, assuming one of the most powerful traditional stools in Nigeria.

His appointment by Kano State’s Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, a member opposition All Progressives Congress, was opposed by the presidency which ordered the emir’s office blockaded for days.

The emir reportedly initiated peace moves, and the two men met for the first time in July during the breaking of the Muslim fast, a yearly routine in which the president meets top government officials who are Muslims and other prominent Islamic leaders in the country.

Our sources say the October 30 meeting sealed the reconciliation moves between the two sides.

The emir was accompanied to the meeting by all senior members of the Kano Emirate council, while Vice President Namadi Sambo, the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke, and the Foreign Affairs Minister, Aminu Wali also attended the meeting.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that days after the meeting, the President asked the SSS to release the Emir’s passport as a further proof that he had buried the hatchet and was now ready for a warm relationship with the traditional ruler and his emirate.

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