By Abdullahi A. Lamido

The renowned Muslim human rights activist and Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Ishaq Lakin Akintola, has called for exempting the Sultan of Sokoto from the “Deposition Clause” in the Nigerian laws.

Speaking as the keynote presenter at the formal opening ceremony of the 15th Anniversary of the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar CFR mni, Akintola noted that Sultan Sa’ad as the head of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) means well for Nigeria and his council has the potentials of solving several problems that Nigerian Muslims are bedevilling with.

“By the nature and composite 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 the Emirs and this includes the Sultan”, he said.

Akintola stressed that in addition, Article 7 of the NSCIA constitution stipulates that the Sultan of Sokoto shall be the President General of the NSCIA. “Here lays the dilemma facing the Ummah. The governor of a single state can depose the Sultan and leader of all Nigerian Muslims. This situation is capable of causing unmitigated embarrassment. It also has the capacity to trigger a religious crisis of unimaginable dimension”.

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He pointed to the fact that: “Whereas even the president of Nigeria cannot interfere in the affairs of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), [but unfortunately] a state governor can interfere and even depose the Sultan and President General of the NSCIA. This has far reaching comparative disadvantage vis-a-vis the bargaining power as well as pressure group influence of Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.”

The solution to this dilemma according to Akintola is to secure immunity from deposing the Sultan. “The onus is therefore on 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 which may not go beyond a motion in the House seeking to insert the phrase ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ in the dethronement clause.”

He reiterated that this is not about the present Sultan but about the progress of the Ummah and the freedom from undue executive influence.

Commenting after the speech, the Chairman of the Occasion, His Highness, the Emir of Argungu Alhaji Samaila Muhammadu Mera, stressed that this matter raised by Akintola is a serious one and Nigerian Muslims should give it utmost attention. The Sultan is the leader of the Muslims not of Sokoto. He is not the Sultan of Sokoto State but of the Sokoto Caliphate. As the leader of the entire Nigerian Muslims, the office of the Sultan deserves special provision in a manner that safeguards the overall interest of Muslim leadership.

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Muhammadu Sunusi (II) was the recent emir in Northern Nigeria to be deposed by the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje by alleging that the deposed emir interfered into the state’s political matters that almost caused him to lose his second election in 2019.

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