Sultan of Sokoto tells Ortom and Fani-Kayode to stop calling herdsmen attacks a continuation of Dan Fodio's jihad

SULTAN of Sokoto Alhaji Sa'adu Abubakar has hit out at Benue State governor Samuel Ortom and former aviation minister Chief Femi Fani-Kayode for claiming the recent Fulani herdsmen killings across the country is a continuation of Usman Dan Fodio's jihad.

Across Nigeria, especially in the Middle Belt, there have been a series of murderous attacks by heavily-armed Fulani herdsmen, who attack farming villages. Considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, the sultan is the president of Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the supreme body of Nigerian Islamic bodies.

Highly influential among the Fulani and Hausa people from northern Nigeria, Sultan Abubakar, speaking in Kaduna warned the governor and the former minister, not to take Nigerian Muslims for granted by denigrating them. He called on Muslims to intensify prayers for peace to return to the nation and for a hitch-free 2019 general election as politicians are busy trying to cause crises with their unguarded utterances.

Sultan Abubakar said the JNI would not have reacted to the governor’s recent comments but for the fact that it maligned the name of the revered Usman Dan Fodio. Between 1804 and 1811, Usman Dan Fodio waged a jihad across northern Nigeria, conquering most Hausa and Fulani communities but faced resistance from the Middle Belt that remains Christian up until today.

Following the outbreak of the recent Fulani herdsmen attacks, many commentators have described them as a continuation of the jihad. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the areas that have been attacked the most have been Middle Belt states like Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Taraba that Dan Fodio was unable to conquer.

JNI secretary-general, Dr Abubakar Khalid Aliyu, said: "This is a reaction to a recent interview granted by Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State to an online TV programme, The Osasu Show, in Makurdi, the state capital. It has been carried widely by both the print and electronic media, to the effect that the ongoing herders-farmers clashes in his state are a continuation of the jihad of our revered Shehu Usman Dan Fodio.

“For the records, the governor is not alone in throwing these tantrums, Femi Fani-Kayode, one-time minister of aviation during the reign of President Obasanjo has always said lots of unprintable things against Shehu Dan Fodio. This rejoinder is premised on the fact that Islam does not encourage its adherents to castigate other people of faith or fabricate lies against them but encourages that once the society of Islam is frequently maligned, then it is incumbent on the society to defend itself, hence the need for this write-up."

He called on all, particularly the Benue State government not to take for granted the leadership of Nigerian Muslims over these unfortunate crises in the name of herders-farmers’ clashes. Dr Aliyu said this is the case as Muslims are observing the Ramadan period during which they are enjoined to be cautious and calm in all their affairs.