Sultan of Sokoto speaks tough on insecurity, asks Christian, Muslim leaders to go after hate preachers, stop media war

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Sultan reading his address.

•Says stigmatisation of Fulani should stop

•Disowns Fulani group which claims to own Nigeria

“We are practicing religion the wrong way. We should be preaching about the commonality between Islam and Christianity. But our preachers these days are preaching superiority of one religion over the other instead of preaching what we have in common.”

The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, speaking in Jos at the weekend, spoke with all the seriousness that was required of a leader of his Calibre in time when insecurity appears to be unabated like Nigeria has on its hands currently.

By this he asked leaders of Christian and Islamic faith in the country to go after preachers of hate and disunity among them even as be frowned at situation where an ethnic group would be stigmatised like it is being done against the Fulani tribe in Nigeria.

Disowning the Fulani group that claimed, recently, that it owns Nigeria, the Sokoto monarch called for the arrest and prosecution of hate preachers in the country, be they Muslims or Christians.

He warned on Friday that the conduct of such hate preachers was putting the unity of Nigeria at risk.

“One of the problems we are facing as a people is religious leaders who mount the pulpit and say anything they like and get away with it,” the Sultan said at the opening of the 2nd National Summit on Peaceful Coexistence and Nation Building in Jos.

He added: “I don’t know why security agencies don’t often go after such religious leaders. I think we will be better off as a country if security agencies go after anyone who hides under religion to commit crime against the country.

“The preacher who incites his followers is as criminal as any agent of insurgency.They should be charged for public incitement.”

He also advised the hierarchies of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’tu Nasril Islam (JNI) to put an immediate stop to the media war between Muslims and Christians before it gets out of hand.

Besides, he asked Nigerians to disregard a statement by a Fulani group that the land from Sokoto down to the Atlantic Ocean in the south belongs to the Uthman Dan Fodio and his descendants.

He said the claim has no basis in history.

At the summit organized by Da’awah Coordination Council of Nigeria, DCCN, the Sultan, who doubles as the President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, said religion is being practiced wrongly in the country.

He said: ”We are practicing religion the wrong way. We should be preaching about the commonality between Islam and Christianity. But our preachers these days are preaching superiority of one religion over the other instead of preaching what we have in common.

“The ongoing media war between Christians and Muslims should stop.A situation where a Muslim will make remarks in the media and the next day a Christian will counter the comment is unhealthy for religious harmony.

“These are the same religions that preach forgiveness.If so, why do we engage in this media war? “I plead with CAN, JNI to warn their leaders to put a stop to using the media to promote hatred and disunity. When you talk of reconciliation, we don’t talk of who is right or wrong.”

“Both religious have provisions that say if you don’t love your neighbor, you can’t love God, because your neighbor is created by God.

“But we now have fake preachers who claim good knowledge of the holy books, but in real sense they don’t know anything in the religious books. And that is why all they preach to their innocent followers is division and hatred.”

He dismissed fears in some quarters about alleged plots to Islamize of Christianize Nigeria.

His words:”Let me emphasize that it is impossible for anyone to Islamize or Christianize the country called Nigeria.

The Sultan blamed the elite for much of the insecurity in the country,saying: “I will not be tired of saying that our problem in this country is the elite – the big men and women who have become so influential beyond human control. They live in big houses and surround themselves with hundreds of security people and are untouchable. They do everything to remain big and relevant.

“These elite are found everywhere. They are political elite , religious elite , traditional elite , ethnic elite etc. These elite, because of their financial power use the children of the poor to do their bidding. They recruit the millions of jobless youths and arm them to go and kill in protection of their positions.”

On the incessant clashes between herders and other people in Plateau State,the Sultan called for forgiveness by all.
He said:” “If we can seek God’s forgiveness for our sins, why can’t we forgive ourselves and coexist peacefully.

“If somebody is going to kill the person that killed his father, there will be no end to killings. We need forgiveness, we don’t need revenge.”

And on the claim by a Fulani group that Nigeria is the property of the late Uthman Dan Fodio of Sokoto, the Sultan said: “I am the current leader of that kingdom and I have never seen any record where Uthman Dan Fodio said so.

“There are hundreds of books written about the kingdom, I have never seen in any of the books that lends credence to this claim. So I urge all Nigerians to ignore such claim;it is baseless and it does not exist anywhere.”

Continuing, he said: “the Sultanate has never laid claim to any portion of land in Nigeria. It only works on reformation of the Islamic religion.

“Dan Fodio came to reform Islam and preach good governance to Islamic religious leaders.

“So, the faceless Fulani group that came up with such claim is unknown to me. I have publicly denounced them.

“The only Fulani group that I know and I am its grand patron is Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN). Any other Fulani group that is not MACBAN is not known to me and cannot speak for Fulani in this country. Miyetti Allah has been existing for 44 years, the other one Miyetti Allah Kalta-haure is just four years old.

“I am a very proud Fulani man and if I am to die and return to this world, I will want to come back as a Fulani man. But the stigmatization of the Fulani to the level that any crime committed in this country is attributed to Fulani… Yes, some Fulani are into various crimes but the security agencies have to arrest them for me to know if they are members of Miyetti Allah. It remains the responsibility of the security agencies to tell us which Fulani perpetrating crimes is all over.”

The Sultan expressed support for CAN in respect of its Sunday’s prayer walk.

“Yes we Muslims are in support of prayers for peace to reign in the country,” he said.

He added: “I have also instructed Muslim leaders to organize special prayers during the next Islamic season that last for three months, that is months of Rajab, Shaban and Ramadan. I’m sure God almighty will listen to our prayers for the country.”

The lead speaker at the peace summit, Prof Sharubutu who spoke on the theme; “Leadership and good governance: Bedrock for peaceful coexistence” called for an end to the blame game by Nigerian Muslims and Christians.

He said: “Every Muslim thinks the Christian is his problem and every Christian thinks the Muslim is his problem.

“Both religions need to seek understanding of one another.

“We cannot continue to radicalize religion and we want to have peace. Each time the Christians talk, the Muslim will respond. We interpret every government policy along religious lines. That will not give us peace.”

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State emphasised that Plateau citizens must coexist and must coexist peacefully.

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