The Sultan, Nigerian Muslims And The Fulani Massacres, By Dele Awogbeoba


As Nigerians come to terms with the wholesale massacre and genocide against villagers in plateau, Taraba, Kaduna, Benue and Enugu (and to a lesser extent in parts of Edo and Ondo states) over the years by the Fulani (whether the be “herdsmen” or otherwise)), we have now heard the voice of the Sultan of Sokoto.
His intervention has been bizarre. Whilst he has condemned the massacres in Enugu, Benue and the like, he has called it bizarre to attribute the killings to the work of the Fulani.
As far as we are aware, the Sultan was not an eye witness to the killings. Those eye witness accounts have indicated that the massacres were perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen. It therefore beggers belief that the Sultan will give an account that is so different from those given by the victims when he was ensconced in his emirate in Sokoto when the murders were being perpetrated. At a point, a leader of the Fulani stated to premiumtimes that the Fulani carried out the Agatu massacres in retaliation or revenge to earlier killings of some of his tribesmen.
This is probably the best time to actually question when and how and the basis upon which this Sultan started to parade himself as the head of Muslims in Nigeria. His forbear (Uth Man Dan Fodio) never built an empire that traversed the entire North talk less of the entire Nigerian entity.
The powerful Kanen Bornu Empire were muslims way before the sophisticated Hausa states were forcefully taken over by the crude and violent Fulani upstarts. Even after the Fulani descendants of Uthman Dan Fodio forcefully took over the then sophisticated and advanced Hausa states (much in the same way and method that the crude Boko Haram militants at a point took over large parts of Borno state), they never took over or defeated the Kanen Bornu empire. Additionally, the influence of the Sokoto emirate stopped at Illorin (following Alimi’s pledge of allegiance to the Sokoto emirate in order to stave off attacks from Oyo Empire much in the same way as Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to ISIS at the current time).
The question to be asked is on what basis is this pretender walking about the Nigerian and international stage claiming to be the leader of Nigerian muslims? Yoruba land had been exposed to Islam decades before the Fulani’s ever came to present day Nigeria. In fact most Yorubas in Benin and Togo are in fact muslims. Whilst in Nigeria, the Yoruba’s irrespective of whether that includes Northern or southern Yorubas are split almost equally between Christians and muslims. The North East as relics of the old Kanen Bornu empire were never under the sokoto emirate at any point in time, so the basis of the Sultan of Sokoto purporting to talk on behalf of Nigerian muslims (from the North West, North East, North Central and South west) is most absurd.
Fulani herdsmen and Nigerian muslims are not one and the same. Whilst the Sultan is Fulani by heritage (despite that his forbears have ceased to be culturally Fulani for some time in view of the fact that he no longer has Fulani names nor speaks the fulbe language), the hausa speaking Sultan cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Nigerian muslims in a way that is offensive to the vast majority of the muslim faith in Nigeria.
For too long, Islam has been defamed across the globe by a new group of barbaric people twisting and misrepresenting the teachings of an essentially peaceful religion to propagate all manner of crude and barbaric actions.
It is time these pretenders and usurpers are put squarely in their place. The Sultan of Sokoto speaks only for the people of his Sokoto emirate. He is not the leader of Nigerian moslims pursuant to any act of law passed by the National Assembly. He never ruled over all Nigerian muslims during colonial or pre-colonial Nigeria and he will do better to stop his fraudulent misrepresentation of Nigerian muslims or its leadership within Nigeria.