The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has cautioned the Nigerian Christian leaders against making utterances capable of plunging the country into religious war.
The monarch gave the warning while addressing communities, heads of security agencies, religious leaders and journalists during a Ramadan breakfast dinner in his Palace in Sokoto.
He particularly cautioned the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) against its incessant fanning of embers of war in the country.
The Sultan was reacting on behalf of Nigerian Muslims, against the backdrop of reports credited to the nation’s Christian body that: “If Leah Sharibu dies in the hands of Boko Haram, there is going to be a religious war in the country.”
Sultan said Nigerian Christian leaders should stop making unguarded utterances that could make terrorists win their war against the Nigerian State.
The Sultan, who is the President-General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) was profound in his warning, telling Christian leaders to hold themselves responsible, should the captors of the “innocent girl” hear what they are saying and they go ahead and to kill her.
“If the girl is killed, that it is what the CAN is calling for (confusion) that the insurgents actually want to achieve.
“If Leah Sharibu dies in Boko Haram’s den, you are part of the cause.
“We pray for her safe return but Christian group is helping the captors achieve the aim to cause religious war.
“Did the Muslims connive with Boko Haram to abduct the girls and release others? No.
“For them to now make that comment that if she dies in the hands 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? It means the insurgents are winning the war because that is what they want.
“If they hear about this and went and kill the innocent girl, that means you are part and parcel of what makes them do that because they want to cause confusion in the country,” the Sultan said.
The Renaissance recalls that CAN, four days ago, reportedly threatened doomsday for Nigeria if Sharibu said to be the only Christian girl among the 112 students kidnapped from Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, by Boko Haram insurgents on Feb. 19, should die in the hands of her captors.
Meanwhile, according to media reports, findings revealed that the news about Sharibu’s refusal to denounce Christianity was only learned from the CAN leadership, who celebrated her as “Hero of Nigerian Christian Community”.
Primate Ola Makinde declared scholarship for the little girl even when the number of girls expected by the government was still being awaited based on the success of the administration’s negotiation with the abductors.
The Christian leaders’ attitude publicising a defeat of Boko Haram by a 15 years old girl still in captivity, saying she is Christian hero for daring Boko Haram at that moment when the Federal Government had achieved success in its negotiation with the Boko Haram insurgents to get all the schoolgirls released without hurting any of them including Leah Sharibu.
It would be recalled that Adebayo Oladeji, Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the CAN President, was reported in Punch to have said that there will be doom in Nigeria if Sharibu dies.
Oladeji was quoted as saying: “Recently, CAN called out its members to demand her release.
“We have addressed a press conference calling for her release. At every opportunity any church leader has to speak to the public, they demand her release.
“We are doing a lot of things we cannot be disclosing to the public. Our concern includes the silence of the media and the civil society organisations thinking Leah Sharibu is a CAN affair. How many editorials have been written about her plight?
“Leah Sharibu must not die. Her death, God forbids, can spell doom for Nigeria. It can give an open invitation to religious war because Leah is being detained purely because of her religion”.
The Sultan urged the media to save this country from impending violence and imminent collapse.
According to him, some of the media reports were inimical to the nation’s peace and unity.
He expressed dismay that some media outlets including the social media post unverified reports and gory pictures to create tension in the country.
The Sultan cited one picture of Fulani herdsmen holding G4 rifle used by some media organisations to portray attacks on innocent Nigerians as uncalled for because the picture, according to him, was that of herders in the Central African Republic which had been in existence for over 20 years.
“There is no G4 rifle because it had been wiped away for long.
“That picture, being used particularly by the Channels TV, was that of herders in the Central African Republic, who were being terrorised by rustlers because cattle rustling started in their country long before coming to Nigeria,” he said.
Alhaji Abubakar III, a retired General, threatened to denounce his fellowship of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in protest against misleading and unverified stories aired or published by the union’s members.
He pointed out that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers were purely economic but being hijacked by some criminal elements.
The monarch said those killing innocent people, especially in the Middle Belt, were criminals who should be arrested and punished.
“You don’t arrest or kill innocent Fulani men just like what had happened in Benue State when innocent Fulanis who were in transit were stopped and killed by some residents of the state,” he cautioned.
He expressed worry that the killings could continue because some politicians would want to use it to have an edge over their political opponents.
The Sultan called on Nigerians to be vigilant and endeavour to expose criminals in their midst, even if they are their fathers and brothers.