The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar has cautioned against inflammatory remarks, use of ethnicity and religion to undermine the unity of the country, saying God has a purpose for bringing different ethnic nationalities such as Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa/Fulani into a corporate entity called Nigeria.
Alhaji Abubakar who gave the warning in Enugu during the official reception of Enugu Rangers, the Flying Antelope, for their victory at the 2016 Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) organized by the Enugu State Government, said that it was erroneous for some people to say that the armed herdsmen that have been killing people and destroying farmlands was a form of Islamizing Nigeria.
He called on government and political leaders to avoid using religion to divide the people but to fish out those responsible for the killings, instead of tagging them “Fulani Herdsmen” because of their religious affiliations or ethnic backgrounds.
“It is not about religion or Islamization. It is different. It is about extremism and we must put hands together to defeat extremism. Let us not spoil the relationship that already existed between us. The government and the people must join hands to fight extremism”.
The Muslim spiritual leader said that people who engage in such acts in whatever guise should be regarded as criminals and should be treated as such, pointing out that Islamic religion never supported killing to force people to become Moslems but by persuasion.
“There are some Fulani herdsmen that are not criminals as we made them to look. There are some good ones among them. But I believe that those who are found to have invaded people’s lands or kill innocent lives should be made to face the law. Some of these herdsmen militias you see are not Hausas. However, we do not support our people to engage in crimes. Islam as a religion does not support the killing of innocent lives,” he said.
“We are not to kill anybody because of religion. We must allow bad ones to spoil our unity. There are many good Nigerians.
“There is no compulsion in religion. Our problem is extremism. Islam does not support violence. As a good Moslem or Christian, we must love one another,” the Sultan admonished.
He said that he had met with President Buhari on several occasions but he had a different views altogether.
“What the people are thinking is not what Buhari is thinking. I have spoken with him on several occasions. Justice is the bedrock of every government,” he said.
Also speaking, Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu State said that the Sultan had been a great supporter of Rangers even when he was in Enugu as a military officer.
On the reason for the visit, Ugwuanyi explained, “The essence of this visit is to strengthen the relationship between us as a people. The Sultan is part of us as he started his military career here and tomorrow we shall be going to Nsukka where he served. He is a strong supporter of Rangers.