Ibrahim Dasuki, The 18th Sultan of Sokoto
Full Names & Titles:
Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki
He is Fulani and the great-great-grandson of Uthman dan Fodio.
BIRTH & EARLY DAYS
In December 1996, he turned 73. He was born on the 23rd of December, 1923.
In November 1988, he was appointed as the 16th Sultan of Sokoto. A close ally of Nigeria’s military president, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), the military dictator gave a contract worth tens of millions of naira to Julius Berger Nigeria Limited to upgrade the 192-year-old palace to modern standards shortly after Dasuki was made Sultan. For eight years, Dasuki was the Sultan of Sokoto where he reigned as the head of Nigeria’s only caliphate, and also the Sole Spiritual Leader of millions of Nigerian Muslims.
On the 20th of April, 1996, he was deposed by the General Sani Abacha regime.
- After the loss of his throne, he was banished to faraway Zing in Taraba State, more than 24 hours by road from Sokoto, the seat of his caliphate. He was the undisputed Sultan for eight years. Zing is a dusty, rural town in Taraba on the outskirts of a Government Reservation Area (GRA) and he was detained in a grim, white bungalow with three bedrooms. A high fence ensured that the building was kept from the glare of curious Nigerians. The locals quickly dubbed the place ‘Dasuki Lodge’. Prior to his banishment to Zing, the building was the local government guest house Number 6, located between Guest Houses Number 7 and 11. Armed soldiers occupied the 7 and 11 watched Dasuki every hour of the day. Locals hilariously branded the soldiers dogaris meaning ‘palace guards’ but just that these soldiers were very much different from the dogaris that he was used to back in Sokoto.
- The soldiers mandated to watch over Dasuki in Zing were ordered not to communicate with him, and in order to ensure that this was adhered to and there was no bonding at all, the soldiers were changed every 14 days.
- Following his dethronement by General Sani Abacha on the 20th April 1996, Umaru Dahiru, the grandson and spokesperson of the dethroned Sultan of Sokoto says the family was denied access to the monarch, said to be suffering from hypertension. He was detained under Decree Two. The building in which he was locked up in Zing was not far from the palace of the Kpanti Zing, the traditional ruler of the place. No loitering was allowed near the building but it was well-known that it contained the high-profile figure. The bored Sultan was said to have spent his time reading the Quran and saying his prayers and take evening strolls round the small building at nights. However, the suffering brought on by the heat and mosquitoes, especially on nights when there was no electricity, was unforgettable.
- While in Zing, he lost the exotic lifestyle that he was used to and he did not even have any say over what he ate. The food he was served was at the whim of the local government secretariat cook. Once the food arrived, one of the three soldiers on guard takes the meal to Dasuki and tastes it to assure it was not poisoned. The traumatized sultan was said to have lost a lot of weight because he lost his appetite. There was also a time he had typhoid fever, and that was because there was no source of potable water in Zing and had to drink from the rijiya (traditional well) or from the various streams in the locality. When the typhoid became serious, he had to be hospitalized at the Aso Rock Clinic for several days and after his discharge, he was supplied bottled water brought to him directly from Jalingo, courtesy of the Taraba State government.
- The Dasuki family raised a lot of dust over the way their patriarch was treated and Dasuki himself made numerous appeals to General Sani Abacha in 1996 to allow Professor CO Abengowe, Dasuki’s personal physician to see him, but all his pleas fell on deaf ears. But in October 1996, the military regime directed Abengowe to provide prescriptions that tallied with the deposed sultan’s medical history. The drugs were as follows: one bottle of vitamin E, one bottle of Omega 3, two bottles of vitamin C, one bottle of Fresh Royal Jelly capsules, one bottle of Ecotrin, four bottles of Megadon, three packets of Norvasc and one bottle of Zyloric.
CONTROVERSIES AND CRITICISM
- After his dethronement, the Abacha junta claimed that he had a case to answer with the Failed Banks Tribunal. But when a judge ruled that Dasuki had no case to answer, the Abacha regime simply brushed the ruling aside and locked Dasuki up. It was after the ruling that the Abacha government stated that Dasuki was now held under the feared Decree Two.