As he returned to the throne in a colourful ceremony, Nigeria’s influential Emir of Kano addressed the people who deposed him four years ago.

Those who expelled Muhammadu Sanusi II from his role as a traditional Muslim leader in the northern state of Kano were not worth talking about, he said on Friday.

Mr Sanusi was ousted in 2020 for showing “insubordination” to the authorities there.

His supporters believe he was sacked as he opposed the re-election of Kano’s then governor.

Mr Sanusi, an ex-central bank chief, was reappointed by current Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf at Kano State Government house on Friday.

During his 2023 campaign to become governor, Mr Yusuf had pledged to bring Mr Sanusi back as emir.

He said that by dethroning Mr Sanusi, the authorities had violated Kano’s centuries-old tradition of emir rule.

Traditional leaders in Nigeria hold few constitutional powers but are able to exert significant influence as they are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.

At Friday’s ceremony, Mr Sanusi expressed his gratitude to the state governor, state legislators and the people of Kano as a whole.

Of those that deposed him in 2020, Mr Sanusi said: “Those who did that are not worthy of me talking about what they did.”

But just hours before the event, it was unclear whether Mr Sanusi’s reinstatement ceremony would actually go ahead.

The Federal High Court had issued a last-minute order stopping the state government from abolishing all five emirates created during the administration of former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje and returning to the system where only one emir ruled Kano.

The ruling was a response to an application from Aminu Babba Dan Agundu, a Kano emirate official who opposed moving back to the old system.

However, Mr Yusuf said he did not recognise the ruling.

Referencing reports that the High Court judge was based in the US, Mr Yusuf said at the ceremony: “Imagine a judge in America ordering us to halt the coronation of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi. Our laws are in place and they will not change.”

Mr Sanusi became the 14th Emir of Kano in 2014 after the death of Ado Bayero.

From 2017 onwards, he had frosty relations with then-Governor Ganduje.

He was sacked in 2020, with the government accusing him of “total disrespect” towards the local institutions.

The government then created five new emirates in the state and appointed Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero as the new emir in Kano.

On Thursday, the day before Mr Sanusi returned to the throne, the Kano State House of Assembly abolished the five former emirates.

That same day, Governor Yusuf signed the law and gave the emirs of the abolished emirates a 48 hours to vacate their palaces.

On the streets of Kano, the reaction was mixed.

Resident Idris SR Dawanau told the BBC on Friday: “I am extremely happy about the reinstatement of [Sanusi] today.

“I wish him well and hope he continues to contribute positively as he always has.”

But fellow resident Lawal Najeef criticised the move: “In my opinion, leaving all the emirs in place without removing any would have been better because it makes things easier.

“For example, if you have an emir nearby, people can go to him with their issues without having to travel far.”