The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSICA), Sa’ad Abubakar III, yesterday implored the federal government to arrest and prosecute those behind killings across the country.
He lamented that the age-long farmers/ herders’ crisis, which is known to all as a purely economic one, has been hijacked by some criminal elements lately.
The royal father insisted that killing innocent people, especially in the Middle Belt region, are criminals who should be arrested and punished accordingly.
The Sultan who spoke while addressing resident communities, heads of security agencies, religious leaders and journalists during a Ramadan breakfast dinner held at his palace, however, warned against arresting and killing innocent Fulanis.
“But don’t arrest or kill innocent Fulani men just like what had happened in Benue State when innocent Fulanis who were on transit were stopped and killed by some residents of the state,” he cautioned
The Sultan admonished Nigerians never to allow terrorists, whose ultimate target remains to put the country at a cross road by all means, celebrate victory over Nigeria.
Urging victims of insurgency and other aggrieved persons never to allow terrorists win the war against Nigeria, he said the recent statement credited to some Christian leaders was a pointer to that direction.
The religious and traditional leader further urged Christians and all other victims of insurgency to think twice before making comments that are capable of making terrorists win their war against the Nigerian State.
Reacting to a statement credited to some Christian leaders that if the only Christian girl abducted alongside the freed Muslims girls from Dapchi school eventually dies in the hands of Boko Haram, Nigeria will be heading for a religious war, he maintained that terrorism has no religion.
The Sultan regretted that such unfair statement could come from respected Christian leaders, even as he wondered the rationale such retaliation would be.
“How could that be? Did the Muslims connive with Boko Haram to abduct the girls and release others?”, he queried.
Dispelling the impression that Boko Haram is targeted at Christians on behalf of the entire Nigerian Muslims, Sultan said Boko Haram killed more Muslims than Christians.
The royal father stated: “For them (Christian leaders) to now make that comment that if she dies in the hand of Boko Haram there will be a religious war is very unfair. How could you start attacking Muslims because this innocent girl happened to be a victim of murderous terrorists? Should we allow ourselves to be controlled by such mentality? It means they (Boko Haram) are winning the war because that is what they want.
“If they hear about this and go ahead and kill the innocent girl, that means you are part and parcel of what made them to do that because they want to cause confusion in the country. We are all praying for her safe return and for the safety of every Nigerian, irrespective of his or her religion”.
The Sultan further queried the Nigerian media over some of their reports, saying they are inimical to peace and unity.
He also warned against the deliberate use of unverified reports and gory pictures, especially by the social media, which have been raising tension in the country.
He said a picture of Fulani herdsmen holding G4 riffle used by some media organisations to portray attacks on innocent Nigerians was uncalled for because the said picture was that of herders in the Central Africa Republic, which has been in existence for over 20 years.
“There is no G4 riffle because it had been wiped away for long. That picture used particularly by Channels TV was that of herders in Central Africa who were being terrorised by rustlers because cattle rustling started in their country long before coming to Nigeria”, he explained.
While cautioning media practitioners to humbly abide by the tenet of the profession, the Sultan further threatened to denounce his fellowship of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in protest.
He said the media has devalued the cherished profession by allowing misleading and unverified stories aired or published by their members without punishment.
Talking on possible end to the killings in Nigeria, the Sultan expressed fears that there may be no end in sight, as politicians would want to use it to have an edge over their political opponents.
He urged Nigerians to help end the killings by exposing criminals in their midst, even if they are their parents.
He said, “We should all see ourselves as security personnel. Let’s not leave them alone. Don’t hide criminals even if they are your fathers because too much blood had been shed and this is why God is angry with us.
“I believe there are more good people than the bad ones. Let the good come together and defeat the bad ones. We have done that while fighting malaria and we can do it again”.
Sultan further appealed to the federal government to take both the welfare of security personnel very seriously.
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