Hundreds of youths staged a demonstration round the city of Sokoto on Monday, 4th March 2019 against the purported plan by a political party to depose the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar OFR, mni, once the party seizes the reins of power in Sokoto State. However, the chairman of the political party has debunked the allegation.
Reacting to this development, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said it is not enough for the allegation to be debunked. The Islamic human rights organization insisted that the sultanate must be given immunity from deposition. This position was made known in a press statement signed by MURIC’s Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Wednesday, 6th March 2019.
“There is need to go beyond mere debunking of this allegation to dethrone the Sultan”, MURIC said. “The system (the sultanate) must be strengthened in such a way that it is made impossible for anyone, governor or even president, to wake up one day and say he wants to depose the Sultan.
“We are talking of the head of all Muslims in Nigeria and a single person will just dethrone him just by snapping a finger. It is infra dignitatem. It had better not be. The Sultan does not head Sokoto sultanate alone. He is the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA). He deserves tons of respect.
“But the reality on ground goes beyond grandstanding. The extant laws are on the side of the state governor if he decides to depose the Sultan. Section 6 Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria empowers the governor to do that with any emir in his state. He hires and fires them. This was how Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki was removed by a military governor in 1996.
“It was made possible because the Sultan is a traditional ruler. Yet Article 7 Section (i) of the Constitution of the NSCIA stipulates that the Sultan of Sokoto shall be its President-General. This shows that Section 6 Cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria constitutes a potent threat to Article 7 Section (i) of the Constitution of the NSCIA.
“Our position is that one of the two must give way and we believe it has to be the Sokoto law on traditional rulers. This is because NSCIA constitution is national whereas the laws of Sokoto are for Sokoto state only. This law must be repealed to grant immunity to the Sultan. It will continue to affect other emirs but it will have no power on the Sultan.
“This has always been our position in MURIC. As the Director of MURIC, I advocated the repeal of this law in a lecture I delivered at the Sokoto Stadium on October 26, 2014 (http://www.informationng.com/2014/10/muric-advocates-immunity-for-sultan-against-deposition.html). It also formed the crux of some of our subsequent statements on the issue (https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/muric-seek-immunity-for-sultan-from-deposition.html; https://www.africanexaminer.com/dasukis-death-muric-condoles-sultan-demands-for-repeal-of-sultanate-law/).
“As things stand today, the onus is on the honourable members of the Sokoto State House of Assembly to do the needful. This law of Sokoto State and the constitution of the NSCIA are working at cross purposes. We cannot have a President-General who can be removed at will by a single person. Nobody will try that with the Christian Association of Nigeria. No governor or president can remove the president of CAN.
“We must also protect our Sultan. Freedom cannot be enjoyed by the naïve and the myopic in any society. It is time for a change. For the first time in decades, we have a Sultan who is highly mobile. Unlike other armchair leaders of the past, he has touched lives in all parts of the country. He has been articulate. He has promoted peaceful coexistence and demonstrated high-level calmness even in the face of utmost provocation. This is a Sultan nulli secundus.
“We, therefore, call on the Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly to take every necessary legislative measure to protect the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA. Nigerian Muslims do not wish to face another monumental embarrassment and constitutional confusion.
“MURIC charges Mr Speaker to set the machinery in motion for a speedy amendment of Section 6 CAP 26 which says inter alia, ‘The Governor after due enquiry and consultation with the persons concerned in the selection, may depose any chief or any head chief…’
“We hereby move that the phrase ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ be inserted after the words, ‘or any head chief’ in the aforementioned Section. It is obvious that this amendment is very simple. It requires the insertion of only five words ‘except the Sultan of Sokoto’ to save millions of Nigerian Muslims from suffering vicarious punishment and the resultant collateral damage to the Muslim Ummah.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)