Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad III CFR, has called on governments at all levels to treat Muslims fairly, adding that what is due to Muslims must be given to them as their right and not as a favour.
According to him, “we hold on to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that guarantees freedom of worship. That is why we don’t disturb anybody who wants to go and worship the way he wants.
The Sultan who is also the President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) stated this yesterday at the Delegates Conference of the General/Executive of NSCIA, held in Benin City, capital of Edo state.
“As Muslims, we want nothing but a very peaceful and stable Nigeria. As Muslims, we believe we must stay together as one big family as so desire by the Almighty Allah who put Nigeria together. As Muslims, we want to treat people equally, fairly and justly, equal justice to all of us. We are not asking for preference or special treatment for anybody”, the spiritual leader added.
He also noted that Nigeria is a multi-religious state, not a singular state “because being a multi religious state, various religions must be allowed to go on and not trample on each other’s right, which means ‘I must be allowed to practice my religion the way I believe as ordered me by the Holy Quran and nothing else’.”
He said, “So when we get this done, the issue of hijab and so many other things affecting Islam, I believe is our right, not a privilege, unless the Constitution is changed.”
On the issue of killing in the name of religion, he said “Those bad people among us, like in other religions, we should pick them out and teach them the tenets of Islam. If they refuse to change, that is their own problem. We will meet with the creator on the judgment day.”
Acknowledging that in any society, there are many terribly bad people who are not Muslims but carry out criminal activities with some Muslim organisations either in America, France and even in Nigeria, the Sultan declared that those people doing negative things should be called criminals or terrorists, but not Muslims because he has never heard of Christian terrorists, even when so many Christians or followers of other religions also committed heinous crimes against humanity but have never claimed to do it for their religions and nobody held them against their religions.
“We must contribute to the peace of the nation. As Muslims, we are committed to the peace of this country; we are committed to the peaceful coexistence of this country. But we demand for our right always and our right must be given us”, he said.
In his contribution, Prof. Ibrahim Suleiman of Ahmadu Bello University who spoke on the topic ‘Islamic Solution for Peace in Nigeria’ traced the problem of insurgence in Nigeria caused by Boko Haram to the refusal of countries around the Lake Chad basin including Nigeria to address depletion of the area.
Prof. Suleiman said by 1960, the Lake Chad basin had an area of 26,000 sqkm and was the source of livelihood to about 30 million people of which Nigeria boasted of 15 million of the population.
He said over the years, the same area known as Lake Chad basin has shrink from its original size to about 4,000 sqkm, thus constituting a treat to the livelihood of the people who depend on it for their farming, cattle rearing and other forms of trade.
“This was the Genesis of Boko Haram in Nigeria because if we had taken steps to address the issue of Lake Chad basin which is a treat to our livelihood, the problem of insurgence would not have arisen”, Suleiman stated, suggesting the need to change the very concept of Islam through fear of God, be morally upright and to lift the living standard of the people.
In a goodwill message, the President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Reverend Felix Omobude thanked the organisers of the event for choosing Benin City as venue. He said with the calibre of people as discussants is an indication that every Nigerian should be free to practice their religion.
Also in his goodwill message, Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state said when people misbehave, they should be judged as an individual, and no religion should be attached to it.
Present at the conference were the Sarkin Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Saudi, the Secretary-General of NSCIA, Prof. Is-Haq Oloyode, the Chief Imam of Benin City, Alhaji Abdulfatah Enabulele and other prominent Islamic scholars. Presenting the 142 cows and 26 sheep recovered from rustlers to newsmen at Government Science Secondary School, Babas said the animals were intercepted in collaboration with Tabital Pulaaku Vigilance Group after a fierce gun battle with the rustlers.
“Upon the receipt of an intelligence information, a team of policemen with vigilantes were drafted to the area and on sighting our men, the rustlers engaged them in a shootout but due to the superior power of my men, the rustlers took to their heels abandoning 142 cows and 26 sheep”
Enjoining genuine owners of the cattle to come forward with genuine proof of ownership, Babas disclosed that three people have so far come forward and had identified some of the animals to be their own.