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Government Fires Top Muslim Leader Over Alleged Mismanagement

April 22, 1996

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) _ The military government has banished the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims over allegations of corruption and mismanagement of this year’s pilgrimage to Mecca.

State radio and television announced the firing Saturday night of Ibrahim Dasuki, the 72-year-old Sultan of Sokoto, citing a litany of charges.

Police immediately afterward escorted Dasuki to a plane that took him to the city of Jalingo, 600 miles away, where he was ordered exiled, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.

Dasuki was not even allowed to return to his palace to retrieve some belongings, although his request that his hypertension medication be brought to him was granted, the agency said.

On Sunday, Dasuki’s cousin, Ibrahim Muhammadu Maccido, was appointed by the military government to replace Dasuki as leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, who make up about half the population of 88 million.

Muslims make up about half Nigeria’s population of 88 million.

Dasuki’s reign as sultan, which began in 1988 after his appointment by the military government, was controversial from the start. Muslims who had favored another leader rioted in Sokoto and soldiers were sent to the northwestern city to control the violence.

The military administrator of the Sokoto area, Col. Yakubu Muazu, said in the broadcast Saturday that Dasuki had been indicted in the failure of a bank that collapsed after $10 million in loans to a company Dasuki directed went unpaid. Dasuki has denied wrongdoing, saying he resigned from the company, Nigercafe and Foods West African Ltd., in 1981.

The military government also accused Dasuki of converting public property to personal use, traveling abroad without permission, and a ``lack of foresight and consideration of the government’s work.″

Muazu said the sultan failed to account for money donated by foreign governments and organizations to build mosques.

Dasuki’s relations with the military regime were also said to deteriorate after his son was accused in a coup attempt last year.

The sultan drew fire this month after most Muslims trying to go to Mecca for the Hajj were forced to stay home amid fears they would spread meningitis, which has killed more than 2,000 Nigerians in the past month.

Dasuki was accused of helping orchestrate the Saudi Arabian ban on Nigerians as a way of punishing the Muslim-dominated Nigerian government for its criminal investigations of him.

The Saudis eventually agreed to let just 10 percent of the 30,000 would-be Nigerian pilgrims go to Mecca.

Dasuki’s forced exit was the first since the dethronement in 1903 of Mohammadu Attahiru I Dan Ahamadu Atiku, who was ousted during the British campaign to suppress anti-colonial sentiment in northern Nigeria.

Muslims make up about half Nigeria’s population of 88 million.

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