It appears that a battle-line has been drawn between long-time friends - Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir and Alhaji Hassan Danbaba, over the title of Marafa in Sokoto State. The title became vacant with the demise of Alhaji Umaru Aliyu Shinkafi, who had been the for decades. Shinkafi bagged the title after the death of Marafa Danbaba, the father of Hassan, and as both of them were in-laws to the late Premier of Northern Nigeria and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the general perception was that the title was reserved for only those married to Sardauna’s daughters.
Abdulkadir, who is the Zonal Vice Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in charge of NorthWest zone, currently holds the title of Magatakarda Babba which was conferred on him by the late Sultan Muhammadu Maccido when he was the Secretary to the Sokoto Emirate Council. He was also a Commissioner of Justice during Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko’s administration and later Minister of Youth and Social Development during President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
On the other hand, Hassan is a grandson of the late Premier of Northern Nigeria. His mother A’ishat was the second daughter of the late Sardauna. His father, Marafa, was said to be the pioneer holder of the title. Hassan currently holds the title of Magajin Gari and is one of the senior counselors of the Sultan as well as one of the kingmakers.
Their ongoing battle over the title came to the fore when the recent letter allegedly written by Hassan and addressed to Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was leaked. In the letter, Hassan, a childhood friend of Abdulkadir and said to have been brought up in the same compound, had opposed the title of Marafa going to Inuwa on the grounds of his lineage.
The letter allegedly read in part, “Your Excellency, I write this letter because I am confident that you were elected by the people of Sokoto to bring about further positive development in the state, and not to break up anyone’s house. While it is true that you may have the power, as the governor of Sokoto State, for now to do whatever you wish to do in Sokoto; you can promote whoever you want to promote to whatever level, but it is also true that you cannot change or distort history. It is my hope that you will see reason to reflect on the legacies left behind by Ahmadu Danbaba and Umaru Shinkafi, the first two holders of the title.”
Hassan Danbaba, said he initially believed that the stories about the choice of Abdulkadir for the title was hearsay, until he spoke to couple of very important personalities who confirmed it. However, shortly after the letter leaked, it generated reactions from some residents of Sokoto metropolis, especially those familiar with the relationship between the duo.
One, who is close to both parties, spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as teenagers Inuwa and Hassan were cherished as models of friendship, even though Inuwa is much older than Hassan. He however advised them to tread with caution, stressing that “there is nothing worth fighting for in this life.”
The title of Marafa, according to the incumbent Emir of Zuru, Alhaji Sani Sami in his book titled “Traditional Titles in Northern Nigeria (2007: Page 62)”came after the Sokoto Jihad. “This is why it is considered to originate from Sokoto,” he said.
According to the book, “Marafa is a district head in the city where the Emir or Sultan resides and the Emir could assign some other responsibilities to him…It is one of the titles conferred on persons of non-royal blood.”
Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir
Alhaji Hassan Danbaba