Friday, July 19, 2024

MURIC Alleges Sokoto Governor Plans to Remove Sultan

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The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has sounded the alarm regarding an alleged plan by the Governor of Sokoto State, Ahmed Aliyu, to remove the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, from his position. This potential move has ignited significant controversy and heightened tensions, particularly following the recent deposition of several monarchs in Kano State.

On Monday, MURIC’s Executive Director, Prof. Isiaq Akintola, expressed his deep concerns over this potential action. He noted that such a move could be imminent, drawing parallels with the recent removal of 15 traditional rulers by Governor Aliyu for various alleged offenses. Akintola emphasized, “Nigerian Muslims reject any thought of deposing the Sultan. Feelers in circulation indicate that the governor may descend on the Sultan of Sokoto any moment from now using any of the flimsy excuses used to dethrone the 15 traditional rulers whom he removed earlier.” This statement underscores the immense significance of the Sultan’s position, not only as a traditional leader but also as a religious figurehead for all Nigerian Muslims.

“MURIC advises the governor to look before he leaps. The Sultan’s stool is not only traditional. It is also religious. In the same vein, his jurisdiction goes beyond Sokoto. It covers the whole of Nigeria. He is the spiritual head of all Nigerian Muslims,” Akintola stated. The Sultan’s authority and influence extend well beyond the borders of Sokoto State, making any attempt to undermine his position a matter of national concern for the Muslim community in Nigeria.

Drawing on historical events, Akintola warned Governor Aliyu against provoking Nigerian Muslims into drastic actions. He referenced a similar incident when a military governor, Colonel Yakubu Muazu, deposed Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki on April 20, 1996. “A military governor, Colonel Yakubu Muazu, exposed this soft underbelly when he deposed Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki on 20th April 1996. Nigerian Muslims will be forced to make a hard decision if Sokoto governors continue to diminish the authority of the Sultan.” This historical context serves as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of undermining the Sultan’s authority.

Akintola elaborated, “For the avoidance of any doubts, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar is not only the Sultan of Sokoto but the Sultan of the Nigerian people. His performance and style of leadership have warmed him into the hearts of Nigerians.” He praised the Sultan’s leadership, highlighting his popularity and the respect he commands across Nigeria.

Furthermore, Akintola suggested that continuous undermining of the Sultan’s authority could lead to a significant shift in the leadership structure of Nigerian Muslims. “It will be a farewell to the leadership of traditional rulers over the NSCIA and an irreversible departure from Sokoto’s privileged leadership position. But history will not be kind to Col. Yakubu Muazu and Ahmed Aliyu for ruining the chances of Sokoto.” This implies that Nigerian Muslims might turn to Islamic scholars for leadership instead of traditional rulers, altering a long-standing tradition.

He cautioned against repeated actions that undermine the Sultan’s authority. “Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, and the third time is enemy action. If the deposition of a Sultan and NSCIA leader happens a second time, Nigerian Muslims will not allow the embarrassment to happen a third time.” This statement serves as a warning that any further attempts to depose the Sultan will not be tolerated.

In addition, MURIC called on the Sokoto State House of Assembly to review and amend the state’s chieftaincy laws to protect the Sultan of Sokoto from such actions. “MURIC reiterates its call on the Sokoto State House of Assembly to either repeal or review the state’s chieftaincy laws by adding the phrase ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ to Section 6, Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria which empowers the state governor to depose the emirs including the Sultan.”

Akintola urged Northern elites and Islamic scholars to intervene promptly to prevent any such action. “This is the time to lobby the Sokoto State House of Assembly and the governor himself. If the chieftaincy laws of Kano State can be repealed within 24 hours, nothing stops that of Sokoto State from being reviewed in favour of immunity for the office of the Sultan in a single day to save Nigerian Muslims from humongous embarrassment.”

As of now, the Sokoto State Government has not responded to MURIC’s allegations. The government had previously announced plans to amend section 76 of the local government and chieftaincy law to reflect contemporary practices within the state. Under current laws, the Sultanate Council makes recommendations for district and village head appointments, but the governor retains the final authority to appoint.

The unfolding situation remains tense, with many watching to see how the Sokoto State Government will respond and whether the concerns raised by MURIC will be addressed. The controversy underscores the delicate balance between political authority and traditional religious leadership in Nigeria, highlighting the potential for significant ramifications if this balance is disturbed. The outcome of this situation could set a precedent for how traditional and religious leaders are treated by political authorities in the future.

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