Like Ese Oruru, like Muhammadu Sanusi


A few days ago, erstwhile Emir of Kano, Muhammadu II, was dethroned and removed from his opulent palace where, five years earlier, 13-year-old girl from Bayelsa state, Ese Oruru, was forcefully converted to Islam and married without her consent or that of her parents to one of his subjects, right under his watch.

Since his dethronement, many Nigerians have not stopped eulogising ’s qualities. Some have described him as a fighter for the oppressed and downtrodden, a defender of the girlchild and the female gender, while others have tried to explain how he has become a huge blessing to the North and Nigeria as a whole. Some people have even started seeing him as a worthy material for President, come 2023!

Indeed, we are not just a people with stunted memories and zero principles; many of us are simply fickle-minded and lack integrity. We abhor the truth and often shy away from upholding it. If this isn’t true, then how come we have forgotten so soon the Ese Oruru saga?

At the time Ese was abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married off, a monarch of ’s stature could easily have ordered the immediate return of the girl to her parents and prevented such a criminal and ungodly act within his palace, the headquarters of his domain in which he was the absolute authority, but he did nothing until overwhelming public outcry compelled him to make a reluctant intervention, after which the poor hapless girl was returned to her parents. By then, of course, she had already been sexually violated and impregnated.

Even the Inspector General of Police at the time, Solomon Arase, when confronted with the reluctance of Nigeria Police Force to effect the release of Ese Oruru from the emir’s palace at the time, was reported to have confessed to being powerless to do so without Sanusi’s intervention.

It is this same deposed emir that some thoughtless people, including those considered to be highly cerebral, introspective and current, are singing his praises. Where did Sanusi hide these ‘progressive qualities’ when a hapless, helpless, and hopeless girl was thrown virtually at his mercy, before his all powerful and royal majesty? If not that he is an Islamic extremist, who sees nothing wrong in the forceful conversion and forceful marriage of an underage girl simply because she is ‘kaferi’, with no rights, shouldn’t his instincts have galvanised him into speedy and urgent intervention on behalf of the poor girl the very moment he heard of her plight?

Even if the above vaunted qualities were in short supply or absolutely comatose in him as of that time, what about the natural sympathetic and fatherly instinct that any parent must have, regardless of whether the subject matter is your biological child or not?

Recently, I saw a video of one of Sanusi’s daughters speaking so eloquently and glowingly about her father’s qualities. As a father, how would Sanusi had felt if a Yoruba trader in Kano, for example, had abducted this young lady or any of his other daughters at the same age of 13 and whisked her hundreds of kilometres from Kano to a place as distant as Okitipupa, forced her to renounce Islam and accept Christianity, raped her and forced her into a marriage that her parents did not sanction? I shudder to think of what would have been the repercussion of such folly, what bloody carnage would have been unleashed on not only people of Yoruba extraction resident in Kano, but of all other southern ethnic tribes resident in that city, if not the entire North.

Just like they whitewashed Buhari, a known religious bigot, autocratic ruler and ethnic irredentist, who publicly declared that he would do everything in his power to see that Sharia is established everywhere across Nigeria, and presented him as a born-again democrat, ahead of the 2015 elections, some of these people are now surreptitiously bombarding our sensibilities with Sanusi’s so-called high morals, integrity, and reformist credentials. They have started suggesting that he is a possible material for the 2023 presidential election.

Sanusi, unlike Ese, was not completely innocent of his travails. Many have sighted Sanusi’s many sins. No, Sanusi II, former Emir of Kano, is not the innocent politically shining star that gullible southerners with slavish mentality would like to sell to the rest of us as a presidential material, ahead of 2023. The ignoble dethronement and indignities he just experienced was Karma serving him dinner – a la carte.

Who knows, the dessert may still be coming. Karma is a patient woman.

Ayo Lijadu,

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