Imam, Yoruba monarch, Igbo Muslims drum support for Sultan

The Sokoto State government’s alleged plans to depose the Sultan of Sokoto and leader of over 100 million Muslims in Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has raised dust among prominent southern Muslims.

Following the sacking of 15 District heads by the state government recently, there had been widespread apprehension that the ultimate target was to whittle down the influence and power of the Sultan, which transcend Sokoto State and Nigeria.

Although, the state government has come out to deny such move, not many watchers of the event were fazed by such claims.
Chairman of Ekiti State Muslim Traditional Rulers Council and Attah of Aiyede kingdom, Oba Alhaji AbdulMumini Adebayo Orishagbemi, said in a statement circulated to the media during the week that there was no way such idea could fly because the Sultan is not of Sokoto alone but of the entire country.

The statement, personally signed by one of 16 most powerful traditional rulers in Ekiti State, stated, “The attention of the Chairman, Ekiti State Muslim Traditional Rulers Council and Attah of Aiyede Kingdom, Ekiti State, has been drawn to disappointing reports of some politicians in Sokoto State plotting to depose our quintessential monarchy administrator in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar”.

The monarch said the throne of the Sultan should not be subjected to political whims and caprice. Also, the Chief Imam of Akure, Ondo State, Sheikh Abdulhakeem Yayi Akortede, called on the governor of Sokoto State to respect the office of the Sultan.
Sheikh Akorede was reacting to the news of the alleged plan by the Sokoto State to dethrone the ‘unputdownable’ Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni.

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Describing the plan as not palatable, Akorede said, “I believe that politicians behind this sound of sadness are better stopped before it is too late.

Echoing the sentiment of Oba Òrìsàgbemi, Akorede insisted that the Sultan is not of Sokoto Caliphate alone, but that of the entire country and the Supreme Leader of over 100 million Muslim Ummah, whose influence extends beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Similarly, Igbo Muslims have also thrown their hats into the ring, calling on Sokoto governor to tow the path of peace and reconciliation.

The South-East Muslim Community Forum, led by Dr Baron Ogbonnia Ajah, has urged the Governor Ahmad Aliyu to employ diplomatic means and dialogue to resolve any perceived disagreement with the monarch.

The Attah of Ayede kingdom averred, “On behalf of all Muslim traditional rulers in Ekiti State and, by extension, Yorubaland, I declare our rejection of the plans to dethrone the Sultan and call on all Muslims in South West and across Nigeria to set a day aside for fasting and prayers for the protection and safety of the Sultan and his Usmaniyyah throne against the plots of enemies, who have decided in their own wishful thinking to bring down the doing-well leader, over some flimsy untenable excuses, for refusing to get involved in playing politics.

“The 20th Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, son of late 17th Sultan Siddique Abubakar III, is Sultan of Sokoto, but his jurisdiction transcends the boundaries of the Sokoto Caliphate to all the length and breadth of the entire Nigerian nation and beyond, as I am also privileged to know that his Sultanate covers nine provinces in the Republic of Niger and he is Co-President of the World Religions for Peace Headquarters in New York.”

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Sheikh Akorede in his statement, which he personally signed said,
“This is a privilege that no politician of Sokoto State would want to be connected with losing.

“The Sultan is a leader who deserves respect from any angle, a traditional leader and most importantly a renowned religious leader within Nigeria and up to the world arena, being the Co-President of the World Religions for Peace Headquarters in New York.

“We, therefore, advise the Sokoto State government and whoever that is involved in this consideration of dethronement to respect that office and throne of the Sultan because, the very day he was turbaned as the Sultan of Sokoto, he started to represent the entire Muslim Ummah, the largest religious community in Nigeria and it is not thought of that anyone of the politicians in that government – Muslim though – will want to lose the privilege.

He called on the Muslim Ummah in Yorubaland and across the nation to fast and pray for the Sultan so enemies of peace, unity and development of Sokoto and Nigeria will not succeed in their plans against him.

SEMCOF on its part said that although Governor Aliyu, through his aides, had denied ever mulling the thought to neither depose nor whittle down the powers of the Sultan as reported, his actions and that of his government confirmed the worries of Nigerians, who insisted that the head of the throne once installed is no longer property of Sokoto but of the entire Nigeria.

In a statement, SEMCOF Secretary-General, Dr. Isiaka Salmon, SEMCOF Secretary General, insisted that disrespecting the office of a monarch of the stature of the Sultan of Sokoto, who is also the President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, to the extent of thinking he can be removed at will of any political class is something that should not happen.

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He said, “The Forum has observed with discomfort the viral stories circulating around about the intention of the state government to dethrone the reverend traditional ruler, the Sultan of Sokoto, who also doubled as the President-General of the NSCIA and JNI.

“It is important to emphasise that the Sultan is not only a traditional leader in Sokoto but also the leader of all Nigerian Muslims, and as such any attempt to dethrone him or tamper with his authority will not sit well with Nigerian Muslims and will portray the government in a very bad light.”

Salmon therefore urged restraint and peaceful resolution of any conflict of interests between the state government and the Sultanate Council of Sokoto in the overall interest of the state and the nation at large.

He said this became imperative because the Sultan enjoys enormous goodwill, support and solidarity across the country and beyond.

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