Emir of Kano Ado Bayero dies in Nigeria

The Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero, pictured in 2011 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ado Bayero was a successful businessman and had worked as a banker, police officer, MP and diplomat

The emir of Kano, one of Nigeria's most revered Muslim leaders and a vocal critic of the Islamist Boko Haram militants, has died, aged 83.

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

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

Tens of thousands of mourners have gathered in the palace for the burial, which is taking place shortly.

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

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

Last year, he survived an attack on his convoy by suspected Boko Haram fighters.

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

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-Adha. 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.

'Peace builder'

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

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

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
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

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.

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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