Nigeria's Emir of Kano Ado Bayero buried after palace funeral

The Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, pictured in 2006 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ado Bayero was a successful businessman and had worked as a banker, police officer, MP and diplomat

Tens of thousands of people have attended the burial of the emir of Kano, one of Nigeria's most prominent and revered Muslim leaders.

Al-Haji Ado Bayero, on the throne in the northern city since 1963, died after a long illness at the age of 83.

He was the longest-serving emir in Kano's history and sought to reduce tensions with Nigeria's Christians.

He was also a critic of Boko Haram and survived an assassination attempt last year blamed on the Islamist group.

During the emir's 50-year-reign, Nigeria has experienced a great deal of turmoil with military coups and unrest but he always stayed out of politics.

Image copyright Manuel Toledo
Image caption Every year at the end of Ramadan, the emir (R) oversaw a three-day royal horse parade

The announcement of his death was made by palace officials on Friday morning - and thousands of people then poured into the city, where they gathered in the grounds of the emir's palace.

Emirs, dignitaries and politician from across the country were also in attendance.

What happens next?

  • Four "kingmakers" - members of the emirate's council of traditional leaders - will meet after the burial
  • They will nominate candidates as possible successors to Ado Bayero
  • To be eligible they have to be a male member of the Ibrahim Dabo family - whose clans include the Bayeros and Sanusis
  • The names of the nominees will be submitted to Kano state government, which will make the final decision
  • Some of the likely contenders include:
  • Senior emirate councillor Abbas Sanusi, the late emir's nephew
  • Lamido Ado Bayero, the late emir's eldest son
  • Former central bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi - a great nephew of the late emir who recently fell out with President Goodluck Jonathan

Open-air prayers were held at the palace, before a funeral cortege made its way to the emir's residential palace, where he was buried.

The emir had recently returned home from London where he had been receiving treatment.

'Peace builder'

President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from southern Nigeria, said the emir would be remembered for his "immense wisdom".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The emirate of Kano is close to the British crown and Prince Charles (C) and his mother have visited

He used "his exalted throne to build bridges of unity, friendship and harmony across the nation", the president said in a statement.

Before he ascended to the throne, he worked as a banker, police officer, parliamentarian and diplomat; he was also a successful businessman.

The emir's driver and two guards were killed when suspected Boko Haram fighters tried to assassinate him in January 2013.

Boko Haram has accused traditional rulers of being too close to the political elite - just last week the emir of Gwoza was killed by suspected militants in the north-east.

Analysis: Aliyu Tanko, BBC Hausa

Although the Sultan of Sokoto is Nigeria's most senior Muslim leader, the late Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero was seen by many as the country's most respected and influential emir.

This is down to his long reign - he spent 50 years on the throne, his efforts to build peace and the way he always stayed out of Nigeria's sometimes murky politics.

Whenever there were tensions between Kano's Hausa-speaking Muslim majority and the large number of mainly Christian Igbo businessmen in the city, he always intervened to calm the situation.

As emir, he invested a great deal of time and effort to promote Kano's durbar - the celebrations held at both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adhar. This has now become the biggest in Nigeria and is a huge tourist attraction.

During the durbar, he rides a horse around Kano, accompanied by a troupe of his cavalry wearing colourful, traditional robes. Later, Kano residents queue up to pay homage to him.

Image copyright Manuel Toledo
Image caption The emir of Kano turned the durbar into a huge tourist attraction
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The durbar honours the power and heritage of the Hausa community of northern Nigeria

Correspondents say Nigeria's traditional leaders hold few constitutional powers, but are able to exert significant influence especially in the mainly Muslim north where they are seen as custodians of both religion and tradition.

Under British rule, the northern emirates were adopted as an integral part of the colonial administration and they became increasingly powerful.

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