As the Sokoto Sultanate marks the 15th anniversary of the Sultan’s coronation, an Islamic human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has congratulated the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
MURIC also demanded the exclusion of the Sultan from traditional rulers who can be dethroned or influenced by a state governor or by the Federal Government.
This was contained in a congratulatory message released by the group’s director, Ishaq Akintola, a professor, on Wednesday.
The statement reads: “On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the coronation of the Sultan, we heartily felicitate with the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji (Dr) Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar. We also commend the Sultan for the giant strides and reforms witnessed by both the Sultanate and the NSCIA since he ascended the throne of his forefathers.
“We note with immense satisfaction that the Sultan has been certified by all and sundry as consistently amiable, peace-loving, tolerant, stable and level-headed. These are qualities that have endeared him to all, not only to his Muslim subjects alone but to Nigerians as a whole. It is for this reason that he is referred to as the Sultan of Nigeria and not just as the Sultan of Nigerian Muslims.
“Nonetheless, we call the attention of the Sokoto State Government, the Sokoto State House of Assembly and the good people of Sokoto State to an imminent danger which hangs above the Sultanate like the sword of Damocles. This danger is capable of stopping the Sultan in his tracks and making it impossible for him to continue his good works.
“By the nature and composition of the NSCIA, anyone who occupies the position of governor in Sokoto State has the power to depose the sultan. Unfortunately, the removal of the sultan has the bandwagon effect of removing the president general of the NSCIA.
“This is because Section 6 Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria empowers state governors to depose traditional rulers and this includes the sultan. Incidentally, the Sultan is the spiritual leader of all Nigerian Muslims and not just the head of the Muslims in Sokoto State alone. It, therefore, amounts to infra dignitatem for a state governor to possess the power to remove the leader of all Nigerian Muslims.
“It has happened before. Sultan Dasuki was deposed by the military governor of Sokoto State in 1996. Even the Federal Government may use the instrumentality of the state governor to exercise undue influence on the Sultan. An unconfirmed report alleged that a state governor once disallowed the late Sultan Maccido from attending a crucial function because the then civilian president did not want him to attend.
“As the elected representatives of the people of Sokoto State, the onus is therefore on members of the Sokoto State House of Assembly to set the machinery in motion for the repeal of Section 6 Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria in such a way that it will exclude the Sultan from the governor’s exercise of the power of deposition. It is a simple exercise that may not go beyond a motion in the House seeking to insert the phrase ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ in the dethronement clause.
“This is not about the reigning Sultan alone. It is about the progress of the Ummah. It is about freedom from undue executive influence. It is also about stability in the Sultanate and the avoidance of religious crisis of unimaginable proportion which the reaction of Nigerian Muslims to the deposition of the Sultan may trigger.”