Home News Sultanate Under Siege: Governor Sacks 15 District Heads, Mulls New Law

Sultanate Under Siege: Governor Sacks 15 District Heads, Mulls New Law

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Relations between the government of Sokoto State and the traditional institution are fast degenerating with Governor Ahmed Aliyu’s planned new law on the appointment of traditional rulers that seeks to grant him absolute power to appoint and sack chiefs in the state.
Ahmed Aliyu has already had the proposed legislation approved by his Executive Council for onward transmission to the state house of assembly. The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Nasiru Mohammed Binji, told news men that the Council seeks the amendment of the District Heads Appointment Law of 2008, which vests the authority of such appointments in the Sultanate Council to a new legislation that makes the act exclusive to be State Governor.

The development is coming after incidences that indicate for many observers, stern and menacing intentions towards the Sultanate Council on the part of the Government, since the inception of Ahmed Aliyu’s administration in May last year.

A couple of months back, the Sokoto state government announced the sacking of fifteen District Heads and the redeployment of two others, through the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Abubakar Bawa, made the announcement in Sokoto.

According to the government, the action followed the consideration and decision to impliment the recommendations of a committee earlier instituted to: “Review the Appointments of Traditional rulers, Renaming of Tertiery institutions and the Dissolution of Governing Boards of state parastatals.”

The government said that nine of the deposed District Heads were axed “for offences bordering on insubordination, aiding insecurity, land racketeering, conversion of public properties for personal use, and in the overriding public interest.”

Six of the fifteen District Heads, the Marafan Tangaza, Sarkin Gabas Kalambaina, Bunun Gongono, Sarkin Kudu Yar Tsakkuwa, Sarkin Tambuwal and Sarkin Yamman Toronkawa, were “dropped for the unprocedural processes in their appointments by the immediate past administration as well as, their total rejection by their subjects.”

However, some informed observers of developments in Sokoto state since the emergence of a new administration in May 2023, view the latest action of the government as an escalation of a long-held agenda of governor Ahmed Aliyu against the person of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar in particular and the Sultanate Council in general.
Malam Ibrahim Cika, a chieftain of one of the opposition political parties in the state, holds the opinion that, the latest assault against the traditional institution, “goes beyond the veils of embellishments and rationalization being provided by the government”,

Recalling that one of the strident campaign slogans of the APC in the buildup to the 2019 and the 2023 elections was: “A new government, a new Sultan”, Malam Cika described the government’s action as part of an orchestrated programme of degrading the Sultan and the Sultanate Council.

In his reaction, a lecturer at the Usman Danfodiyo University, Dr Idris Abubakar drew attention to the fact that, one of the very first actions taken by governor Ahmed Aliyu on assumption of office, was the reversal of the appointments of all District Heads made by his predecessor, “not minding the pertinent fact that the appointments were based on the recommendations of the Sultanate Council in line with standard traditional procedures.”

The University lecturer recalled that simultaneous with the sacking of the District Heads appointed by his predecessor, the new government instituted a committee under the state chairman of the APC, Alhaji Isa Sadiq Achida before which 17 members of the Sultanate Council were summoned and drilled on sundry partisan issues that had no bearings on their positions as traditional rulers.

Many people in Sokoto state also regard the action of governor Aliyu as taking the same path of the attitude and actions of the administration of his political mentor, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko, towards the traditional institution in the state during his two term tenure between 2007 and 2015.

As governor, Magatakarda Wamakko regularly dethroned and redeployed District Heads as well as appointed persons as traditional rulers in utter disregard to traditional procedures and criteria, such as heritage and the inclusion of the Sultanate Council in the process of selection and postings.

Sources within the Sultan’s palace told this medium that: “Indications of strained relations between the two sides appeared when, weeks after his inauguration, the new governor and his mentor, Senator Wamakko stood the Sultan up at the Eid ground and snubbed his traditional Sallah hospitality on governor of the state at his palace.”

A senior courtier in the palace also lamented that, “attempts by Vice President Kashim Shetima to broker peace between Ahmed Aliyu, Wamakko and the Sultan during his last year’s Sallah homage to the Sultan’s palace, proved abortive, as Wamakko again snubbed the royal father at the Eid ground on the subsequent Sallah day.”

Speaking on the latest action of the state government, a retired civil servant, Alhaji Amiru Malami noted that there are similarities in the pattern of the administrations of Ahmed Aliyu and Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko which he said, “are clear actions of political vendetta against traditional rulers who are suspected of not supporting their political camp.”

To buttress his position that politicians are destroying the sanctity and integrity of traditional institution in the state, Alhaji Amiru Malami gave the examples of the District Head of Yabo, Maiturare, who was sacked by the Wamakko administration and was reinstated by the Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, when the stool was made vacant by the death of Wamakko’s appointee but he is now sacked again by Ahmed Aliyu.

He however noted that Magatakarda Wamakko and Ahmed Aliyu are, “the greatest architects of the political actions that have the danger of leading to the steady destruction of the time-honored positions of traditional rulers as non-partisan custodians of the values, history and mores of the people.”

Opposers of the proposed law view it as a flimsy fabrication to justify the government’s onslaught on the Sultanate Council. They argue that contrary to the government’s allegations that appointments of some of the sacked District Heads did not comply with laid down rules and procedures, the administration of Senator Aminu Waziri Tambuwal was, very strict on matters of legality and compliance with procedures in all his appointments, especially those regarding the traditional rulers.

On the claim that some of the sacked district heads were aiding insecurity, they challenged Ahmed Aliyu’s government to be specific on the details of the culpability of the accused rulers, if the allegation was not merely a ploy to smear them to justify their sacking.

The established process consists of nominations of heirs to the stools by local government councils for endorsement and selection by the Sultanate Council and onward referral to the State Governor for approval. This arrangement ensures the inclusion of all stakeholders in the appointment of traditional rulers.

This view is further re-echoed by a popular cleric in Sokoto, Murtala Assada. He was a close aly of Ahmed Aliyu and played an active part in the APC 2023 election campaign in the state but he is now vehemently condemning the removal of the district heads by the government.

Assada, who made the comments in a viral Facebook video, described the dethronement of the rulers as politically motivated vendetta, lamenting that that had become the modus operandi of the APC government in Sokoto of victimization against real or imagined partisan opponents.

He advised the sacked district heads to head to court to challenge what he described as Ahmed Aliyu’s arbitrary action and exhibition of extreme intolerance and disregard for the right of choice of other people.

Majority of concerned members of the public who have been commenting on the development expressed the fear that, by his condescending actions aimed at reducing the integrity and stature of the institution of the Sultanate, Governor Ahmed Aliyu might be consciously preparing the ground for ultimately going after the jugular of Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, in fulfilment of the APC campaign mantra of, ” a new government a new Sultan.”

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