- Says protection of Sultan, Sultanate must be a priority
The Islamic human rights advocacy organisation, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Thursday lamented the recent spate of killings in the North West Nigeria, urging the security agencies to flush out terrorists and bandits from Sokoto State as they are endangering the Sultanate, the seat of the Sokoto caliphate under Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III.
The Sultanate of Sokoto is a traditional State in Northern Nigeria with headquarters in the city of Sokoto, capital of Sokoto State. Preceded by the Sokoto Caliphate, the council was formed in 1903 after the British pacification of the caliphate.
Urging the nation’s security forces “to make the protection of the Sultanate a major priority,” the director and founder of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said in a statement that the Sultan’s sphere of influence goes beyond Nigeria as millions in sub-Sahara Africa look unto him for leadership, inspiration and guidance, “the Nigerian military must therefore ensure that nothing happens to the Sultan. Sokoto must be turned into an impregnable fortress.”
According to Professor Akintola, “bandits on Tuesday, 7th December 2021, killed 21 people in an attack on a passenger vehicle in Sokoto State. Some reports put the number of those killed at 43. The bandits shot at the travellers and burned them beyond recognition. Only nine survived out of thirty passengers. The gruesome attack occurred in Angwan Bawa, Sabon Birni Local Government.
“We commiserate with the State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, OFR, mni, the entire members of the Sokoto Sultanate Council and the good people of Sokoto State.
“The constant occurrence of attacks, the high death toll and the boldness of the unscrupulous elements give us serious cause for concern if reports of earlier killings are anything to go by. For example, 60 people were killed in Sabon Birnin Gobir Local Government when bandits attacked Garko, Dan Adua, Kuzari and Kafi in Gwadabawa Local Government on 28th May, 2020.
“Tragedy struck again when another 120 innocent citizens were killed on Sunday 17th October, 2020 in Gorony market, Sokoto. Again, 43 people were killed in Goronyo market, north of Sokoto on 21st October, 2021. Less than a month later, the criminals killed 15 people on 15th November, 2021. They killed 12 in Illela and 3 in Goronya.
“It is our contention that most of the killings in Sokoto are unreported while the high death toll is usually mulled so as not to create panic among the populace. The Muslim Rights Concern is therefore gravely concerned. We are burying victims everyday. We have cried so often and so much that our sockets are drained and tears no longer flow from our eyes. Enough is enough. The time to stop the killings is now.
“MURIC berates those who give the outside world the impression that Christians are being killed in Nigeria. 99% of those being killed in the North East by Boko Haram insurgents are Muslims while the same percentage applies to victims of bandits in the North West. Both geo-political zones are heavily populated by Muslims. So where are Christians being killed and by who?
“Even the International Crisis Group reported that more than 8,000 people were killed in ten years in the North West alone. We are also not unaware that the North West became the target because bandits have been relocating to the North West because of the intensity of military onslaught on them in the North East.
“While we appreciate the efforts of the security agencies in stemming the tide of insecurity in the North East, we urge them to flush out bandits from Sokoto State and make the protection of the Sultanate a top priority. Let the slogan for the North West operation be ‘To keep the Sultanate intact is a task that must be done’.
“We charge the Federal Government (FG) to continue to give the military the necessary backing it requires to push back the bandits and take the battle to their comfort zones.
“In view of increasing challenges emerging from all parts of the country, it is becoming glaring that the Nigerian Army needs more personnel. We therefore call on FG to allow the army to recruit more soldiers. We urge the National Assembly to cooperate with the executive if legislation becomes necessary to allow conscription into the armed forces. All options must be on the table.
“The Muslim Rights Concern is deeply concerned about the intensity and frequency of attacks in the North West, particularly in Sokoto, seat of the Khilafah (Caliphate). We attach great importance to the safety of the leadership of more than 150 million Nigerian Muslims.
“It must be emphasised that the Sultan’s sphere of influence goes beyond Nigeria as millions in sub-Sahara Africa look unto him for leadership, inspiration and guidance. The Nigerian military must therefore ensure that nothing happens to the Sultan. Sokoto must be turned into an impregnable fortress.”