The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Saad Abubakar, spoke on Thursday at the 1st General Assembly of Inter-faith Dialogue Forum, and addressed the most topical issue in the polity today – the killings by Fulani herdsmen.
Here are six takeaways from the Sultan’s speech:
- It appears that our security agencies and the nation’s leaders are not up to the task of securing Nigerian lives and properties, said the Sultan.
“The killings must be stopped, they have gone too far. This is not the time to apportion blames, but to seek solutions. What are the security agencies doing and when will these killings stop? We must challenge the leaders with one voice, the issues must not be looked at with the prisms of religion or ethnicity,” Abubakar said.
“Any Fulani man caught killing is a criminal and should be treated as such. What are the security agencies doing? If they have failed, they should accept that they have failed.”
- Abubakar admitted that he is a patron of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association. He rejected calls for the proscription of the group which was established about 32 years ago to support members.
“We pray not to get to the level of Afghanistan where everybody is bearing arms, but you can’t label Miyetti Allah as a terrorist organisation. It has never sat down to discuss how to kill innocent people and take over their land. The Fulani (herdsmen) don’t care about electricity, roads or the government because they live in the bush. We refuse to accept that all Fulani are bad.
“We should not be labeling everybody a criminal because his brother is a criminal. Miyetti Allah doesn’t control any Fulani man. Calling for proscription of Miyetti Allah is equivalent to calling for the proscription of other ethnic organisations like Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze and others.”
- He said religious leaders and political leaders should be temperate in their utterances so as not to inflame the situation.
“What we need is to sit down and dialogue. As religious leaders, we have to be very careful with what we say, because it carries weight, our followers listen to us very seriously. We must believe in one another, trust and love ourselves because that is what our two major religions advocate. We must continue to speak with one voice. We should not be labelling everybody a criminal because his brother is a criminal.”
- The crisis is not a religious or tribal one, he said.
“The crisis in Benue is not a religious or ethnic problem but an economic one. It is a fight between herdsmen and farmers and unless the government takes it seriously, it may get out of hand.”
- Sultan Abubakar reiterated that the killings in Benue are not new, but successive governments have not given it the seriousness it deserves.
“This thing didn’t start today, in the past eight years, I have been to Benue many times to discuss this issue. We had met for hours and agreements reached, yet nothing has been implemented. Why? The former governors of Benue are still alive and they know all these. Even the present governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom had written to me to come again with my peace mission, but we had not had the opportunity before this round of crisis,” he said.
According to the Sultan, the so-called Islamisation of Nigeria is not possible, advising religious leaders to avoid spreading baseless rumours.