The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has cautioned religious groups and leaders against comments that would mislead their followers into war.
Abubakar gave the warning while addressing some Sokoto residents, heads of security agencies, religious leaders and journalists during a Ramadan breakfast dinner held at his palace.
The monarch cited a publication credited to some Christian leaders titled, “if Leah Sharibu dies in the hand of Boko Haram, there will be a religious war in the country,” saying such utterances were irresponsible.
He reminded such religious leaders that “terrorism has no connection to religion or ethnicity.’’
Abubakar added that in the event the girl was killed by the terrorists, the Christian leaders that made the comment must be held for complicity.
“How can a leader make such comment,’’ he queried, and stressed that Muslims did not in any way connive with Boko Haram to abduct the girl or get others released.
The Sultan reminded such Christian leaders that more Muslims have been killed by Boko Haram than Christians “which even the former President Goodluck Jonathan testified to.’
“For some section to make that comment that if she dies in the hand of Boko Haram there will be a religious war is very unfair. How can someone begin to attack Muslims because this innocent girl happened to be a victim of murderous terrorists?
“It means the Boko Haram group are winning the war because that is exactly what they want.
“If they hear about this and went and kill the innocent girl that means you are part and parcel of what make them to do that because they want to cause confusion in the country.”
He urged all Nigerians of goodwill to join in prayers for the safe return of the girl, and for peace and harmony across the country.
The Sultan urged Journalists to avoid sensational and mischievous stories capable of dividing the peace along religious, ethnic and cultural roots.
He berated the attitude of some media organisations who immediately broadcast stories without considering its sensitivity and negative consequences.
The Monarch particularly, expressed displeasure with the way some television houses in the country such as Channels television station mischievously portray pictures of some people carrying sophisticated weapons as Fulani herdsmen, noting that such pictures could influence the belief of many against Fulani herdsmen.
“This can send wrong signals that Fulani herdsmen really carry guns and attack communities as they were consistently accused of.
“There is no G4 riffle because it has been wiped away for long and that picture used particularly by a TV station 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 noted.
He threatened to disown the award of fellowship on him by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in protest against continued misleading and unverified stories aired or published by members of the union.
Abubakar, who is the President General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, however, stressed that the crises between Fulani and farmers were purely economic, now hijacked by a few criminal elements.
He reiterated that the criminals killing innocent people especially in the Middle Belt must be arrested and punished.
“But don’t arrest or kill innocent Fulani men just like what happened in Benue state when innocent Fulani people who were on transit, were stopped and killed by some residents of the state,” he cautioned.
The Sultan expressed fear that the killings could continue because some politicians were using it to edge out their political opponents.
“Nigerians should expose criminals in their midst, even if they are their parents or relations.
“Let’s not leave them alone, don’t hide criminal 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,” he said
He also advocated for more effective tools and welfare for security agents working round the clock to restore peace in the country.
He urged Nigerians to assist security agencies to overcome the nation’s security challenges.
“Doing so, will encourage their efforts and operational capacity to positively face the security challenges bedevilling the country. This can be achieved by feeding the security with useful and intelligent information about movement of people with suspicious character around,” he said.