Nigerian Muslim Leaders Set To Battle Sokoto Government Over “Disrespect” To Sultan

Nigerian Muslim leaders under the umbrella of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) have vowed to defend the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar, against any perceived disrespect by the Sokoto State Government.

This commitment was expressed during a crucial meeting held on July 2nd in Abuja by the General Purpose Committee (GPC) of the NSCIA.

The meeting, led by NSCIA Secretary-General, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, reiterated the council’s “absolute confidence” in Sultan Abubakar’s leadership, acknowledging his dedicated service to Islam and the Nigerian Muslim community.

Sources present at the meeting informed Premium Times that the committee pledged to undertake all legal and legitimate means to shield the Sultan from any form of humiliation or disrespect by any entity, be it individual, group, or governmental.

The committee’s robust response comes in the wake of recent legislative moves by the Sokoto State Government, which submitted a bill to the state’s House of Assembly aiming to amend the rules governing the appointment of traditional rulers.

Critics argue that this bill if passed, would diminish the Sultan’s authority by requiring government approval for the appointment of kingmakers and district heads, an act seen as disrespectful to Sultan Abubakar’s position.

The situation evokes memories of past conflicts, including the deposition of Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki in 1996 during the military regime of Sani Abacha.

However, the Sokoto State Government has dismissed these concerns as the work of “mischief makers” and affirmed that its relationship with the Sultanate Council remains cordial.

The NSCIA, through its General Purpose Committee, has strongly advised political and government leaders at all levels to maintain respect for traditional and religious institutions, especially those intertwined with Islamic leadership.

The committee emphasized that respecting these institutions is vital for preserving cultural and religious heritage, which is fundamental to ensuring sustainable peace and national development.

While Sultan Abubakar was not present at the meeting, Secretary General Oloyede confirmed that a formal communique detailing the committee’s resolutions would be released soon.

In the meantime, attendees of the meeting expressed their readiness to mobilize the Muslim faithful nationwide should the state government continue on what they perceive as a disrespectful path towards the country’s pre-eminent Muslim leader.

“The Sokoto State government should realise that the Sultan is not just a traditional ruler; he is a religious figure of national and international repute,” one attendee said, asking not to be named because he had no permission to discuss deliberations at the meeting with journalists. “We will not allow anyone to humiliate him in any way when he has done nothing wrong.”

Earlier, the Expanded General Purpose Committee (EGPC) of the NSCIA expressed its support for the Sultan and applauded his bridge-building efforts across regional and religious divides for national peace and cohesion.

The EGPC meeting, which was held on 30 June and attended by most of its members, was presided over by the Sultan and the two Deputy Presidents-General: the Shehu of Borno, Abubakar El-Kanemi, and Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo.

Prominent among the traditional rulers at the meeting were the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli; Etsu Nupe, Yahaya Abubakar; Emir of Kazaure, Najib Adamu; and Emir of Gummi, Justice Lawal Gummi.

Other members at the well-attended meeting included present and past senior members of both the bench and the bar, current and former ministers, heads of agencies, both private and public, captains of industries and respected scholars at the various strata of the educational system.

At the end of the meeting, the EGPC discussed the perceived disrespect of Sultan Abubakar by authorities in his home state of Sokoto.

But to avoid the Sultan being a judge in his own case, the matter was referred to the NSCIA’s GPC led by Secretary General Oloyede. That body then met on 2 July, resolving to resist any disrespect to the leadership of the Muslim Ummah by anyone or authority.

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