Stop using religion to divide us, Sultan tells politicians

Cyril Okoknwo, Enugu

The Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III has warned against the use of religion and ethnicity to cause division among Nigerians by some politicians.

The Sultan spoke as he joined Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the people of Enugu State in  Michael Okpara Square, to honour the players of Rangers Football Club, who won the 2016 Premiership Football League in Nigeria for the first time in 32 years.

On recent herdsmen attack, he said that the Fulani were not the only herdsmen, insisting that those who commit crimes should be identified as criminals not as people who belong to a particular ethnic group.

“A criminal is a criminal whether Fulani or Igbo. Unless we identify them, we cannot overcome this menace,” the Sultan stated, pointing out that the Fulani have been living among the Igbo for centuries and it would not be possible for them to pick up arms against anyone.

No compulsion

The Sultan said he would never support the taking of lives in the name of religion.

“I will not support the taking of lives because for us as Muslims, we know what Almighty Allah said about killing one single soul unjustly; unjustly means without recourse to law because if you kill, you are supposed to be killed but still not through jungle justice. You must be taken to court, tried, pronounced guilty and sentenced to death then killed.”

He said it was wrong for anyone to kill in the name of religion because no religion teaches that.

According to the Sultan, there is no truth in what people are saying concerning the use of herdsmen to islamize Nigeria.

” You don’t Islamize people by killing them  You Islamize people by have a good relationship with them,” the Sultan stated, explaining that even the holy Koran says there should be no compulsion in religion.

Extremism 

Abubakar III said that extremism was the cause of the violence associated with some religious sects, adding that the phenomenon was not peculiar to any particular religion.

He said extremism is not associated with Islam alone as there are extremists in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism.

The Sultan claimed boko haram insurgents in the North East of Nigeria had killed more Muslims than the adherents of other faiths.

“I want to tell you categorically and sincerely that more Muslims have died in the insurgency than non muslims .  So it is not an issue of religion. ”

Rangers honoured

The Sultan, who said he served as match commissioner in football matches during his days as an army officer, commended the management and players of the Enugu Rangers Football Club for winning the 2016 Nigerian Premier League.

Also speaking, Governor Ugwuanyi said that sports offered opportunities for economic growth, youth empowerment, employment generation and poverty alleviation.

He said: “Unfortunately, like so many sectors, this goldmine has remained untapped in Nigeria due mainly to our dependence on the easy money that oil used to provide.”

Ugwuanyi said he has resolved to “restore Enugu State as the breeding ground for sporting talents in Nigeria and also to reap in full the benefits that sports and sports tourism are capable of bringing to the economy of the state.”

He assured the people of the state that his administration would continue to encourage sports development.

The governor made a cash donation of N41.5m to the team and allocated plots of land to them at Rangers Estate in Enugu.

Among those who spoke at the event was Catholic cleric, Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka, who is also a supporter of Rangers Football Club.