Ibrahim Dasuki

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Ibrahim Dasuki is a Nigerian religious leader who became the 18th Sultan of Sokoto in 1988, the position launched him into national and international limelight and made him to be considered the spiritual head of Nigerian Muslims. As Sultan, he served as the president of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. He was sultan from 1988-1996 before he was deposed and replaced with Muhammadu Maccido a rival claimant to the throne in 1988. Prior to becoming sultan, Dasuki was regarded as a wealthy businessman who was chairman of the Nigerian branch of the controversial Bank of Commerce International and secretary general of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs. In 1988, when he was made Sultan, his appointment drew the ire of many Muslims in Sokoto who demonstrated in streets against the choice of Dasuki as successor to Sultan Abubakar Siddiq.


Early life

Dasuki was born in Dogondaji to a family of descendants from Uthman Dan Fodio; he is a member of the Buhari Royal House and a great-great grandson of Dan Fodio. He started education at a Quaranic school in 1928 and was there till 1931. He later attended Dogondaji Elementary School and the Sokoto Central School. Between 1935-1940, he was a student at the Sokoto Middle School where he was the school's senior prefect during his third year. He later attended Barewa College with his stay being financed by the Sokoto Native Authority. On completing his secondary education and to fulfill scholarship duties, he joined the native authority as a clerk to the district officer in charge of treasury, though, his original intention was to become a journalist.

After spending five years as a clerk in the Sokoto Native Authority, Dasuki decided to try his luck in journalism, he applied to a position as a trainee reporter with Gaskiya Corporation only to be given the post of clerk. He accepted the clerkship position in 1945, A few years later, he became the cashier for the company where he learned the rudiments of accounting and organizing a firm. However, he left Gaskiya in 1953 having felt he was underpaid. Subsequently, he entered the civil service at a time, the regional government's northernisation programme was to take effect.

Between 1953-1955, he was private secretary to the regional minister of Transport, in the person of Ahmadu Bello. He later went to Oxford University for a one year course, on his return he was posted to the Plateau division as assistant district officer, later becoming a pilgrims officer, and in 1963, a representative of the North to the board that conducted the Nigerian census of 1963. After leaving the census board, he continued working for the civil service in the regional ministry of Local Government and later Trade where he was permanent secretary and chairman of the Northern Nigeria Marketing Board. In 1969, he resigned from the civil service into a life of entrepreneurship.

He was a member of the 1977 Constituent Assembly.

Business career

As private citizen, his first high profile job was his position as chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation where he championed a policy of decentralization and the creation of district offices. Another major firm he is linked with is the Bank of Commerce International which he promoted in the 1970s and later served as the local chairman. The bank collapsed in the early 1990s and subsequently allegations of bribery, money laundering and fraud in the bank's dealing with Nigeria trailed the collapse.

Dasuki also had interest in APROFIM ventures including a rice mill, and he is thought to have bought lucrative properties of NICON in Abuja.


Dasuki was controversially announced as Sultan in November, 1988, immediately after the announcement, some Sokoto residents took to the streets in protest against the choice. Among the concerns raised was Dasuki's vast interest in business placed against the spiritual connotation of the Sultan. He was also thought of has not gathering enough votes in the selection made by kingmakers and was chosen because of his close relationship with President Babangida. Some critics also decried his perceived Zionist connections and his choice was partly to counter a more vocal and critical contender in Muhammadu Maccido, the first son of the late Sultan Abubakar Siddiq.

After his appointment as Sultan, he began making dynamic steps to unite Muslims throughout Nigeria, he visited local governments in Sokoto State and made pronouncements against the inflated expenditures of the bride price. He also sought the release of Muslim prisoners andled an international conference on Islam in Africa to discus the problems and perspective of Islam in Africa, promote continental exchange of ideas and knowledge and to establish an institutional forum for African Muslims.

In the mid 1990s, especially under the government of Gen Sani Abacha, Dasuki was sometimes at loggerheads with the government as his son was labeled as a coupist by the Abacha administration in 1995, also in the same year, the special duties minister, Wada Nas called out Dasuki alleging he was in consort with the opposition figures in NADECO, a group opposed to the reign of General Sani Abacha. However, some of his problems were not political, earlier in 1991, one of Dasuki's son was alleged to have chartered a plane for pilgrimage only to witness a crash in Jeddah which killed 261 passengers. In March, 1996, Dasuki's named was mentioned in a tribunal of failed banks as chairman of two companies, Afro-Continental and Nigercafe owing millions of naira to Alpha Merchant Bank and the Republic Bank.

Dasuki's problems with the Abacha govenrment finally led to him being deposed in April, 1996 on allegations of bad leadership and financial impropriety.