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By Paul Onyilo
The Nigerian traditional context of the office of the “Sardauna”, has a Jihadist origin and bearing in the Sokoto Caliphate System, established under Fulani empire. History has it that, in 1804, Shaikh Usman Bin Dan Fodio, through the instrumentality of “the Shehu’s Force”, led a bloody crusade against the former Hausa Kingdom. Between 1804 and 1808, the Shehu’s force, created by Fodio, violently and systematically took over the Hausa Kingdoms, down to Gobir. Fodio’s victory and Fulani dominance of the Northern Nigeria was demonstrated in the extermination of the Hausa Kingdoms and the creation and establishment of the Fulani Empire in 1808, with the Sokoto Caliphate as Center of Power, headed by Shaikh Usman Bin Dan Fodio.
The first phase of the Jihad was indeed a success and the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate came with the office of the Sarduana of Sokoto. Etymologically, “Sardauna” means the Head or Commander of the Royal forces or personal guards to the Caliph/Sutan. Under the Nigerian Caliphate System, the “Sardauna” was a title given to the Prince of the Caliphate, meaning, crown prince.
Inherent to the office of the Prince – Sardauna, is the power to give political advice affecting the political territory of the Caliphate and to foster the vision of the Caliphate. When Sir Ahmadu Bello, great grand son of Shaikh Usman Bin Dan Fodio, rose to the position of Sardauna in the early 1940s, he was made an official political advisor to the Caliphate.
The Caliphate administrative system and the accompanying office of the Sardauna is totally strange to our preserved Idoma traditional politics, neither does it have any bearing on the Igede or Tiv traditional political system. Witout mincing words, I am of the opinion that the proposed creation of the office of the Sardauna of Otukpo, is a subliminal step to the expansion of Fulani Caliphate to the middle belt. It is no different from the third phase of Jihad which was the southern expansion of the Fulani empire to as far as Nupe and Ilorin on the fringe of Yorubaland way back in the 18th Century. It must be pointed out that the Benue State Chieftaincy Law, 2016 is unambiguous in its provision for our chieftaincy structure and offices. There is no provision therein for Caliphate system nor the office of Sardauna. So any attempt to create one does not only constitute an assault on our chieftaincy law but a deliberate invasion on our traditional politics with the aim of subjugating us under the sons of Usman Dan Fodio.
An aspect of the Forth Jihad While we still have the gory mental pictures of the unchallenged Agatu massacre of 2016 amidst others, this Caliphate resurgence should stimulate our legislators (at both State and Federal levels) into their parliamentary responsibilities indeed. The Benue State House of Assembly must take decisive steps of urgency, leveraging on parliamentary instruments to redress this looming malady. It would be self-sabotage to our democracy if our legislators in the State House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives treat this matter with kids gloves.
Contrary to the general conception of the Fulani Jihad, disguised and clothed under the veil of religious war, the suppressed truth of the Jihad lies in the physical actions and motives of its flag bearers. After the successful overthrow of the Hausa Kingdoms, to the exclusion of Borno and the establishment of the Fulani empire in 1808, (marking the first phase of Jihad), the modus operandi of the Jihad flag bearers in the second phase became obviously more political than religious. This is evident in the Jihadist drive to capture Borno which was by no means a pagan state but the most Islamized state in the Northern Nigerian Region.
The El-Kanemi of Borno had earlier led a revival crusade in the region, making Borno the Center for Islamic learning and principles. The El-Kanemi indicted Mohamed Bello (Son of Usman Bin Dan Fodio and the great grand-father of Sir, Ahmedu Bello, the former Sardauna of Sokoto) who took over the Jihadist flag. The El-Kanemi, accused Bello and the Fulani of fighting for political power and land conquest in the guise of religion. In this phase of the Jihad, even the Fulani of the Western province of Borno, who revolted against the Jihadists were attacked by Bello and his forces.
Down through Fodio’s genealogy, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Crown Prince of the Sokoto Caliphate, the Sardauna of Sokoto was quoted to have publicly announced the resurgence of Jihad in his speech of 12th of October, 1960. Being under his ancestral mandate to ensure the Caliphate resurgence, he said “the new nation called Nigeria should be an estate of our grand-father, Uthman Dan Fodio, we must ruthlessly prevent a change of Power, we must use the minorities in the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territory and never allow them to rule over us or have control over their own future”
.Ahmadu Bello’s phenomenal speech was treated with kids glove and it synthesized down to the Northern Peoples’ Congres (NPC) avowed determination to dominate the West, resulting in the Western Region Crises of 1962 and the Tiv Riot of 1964 when the United Middle Belt Region Convention (UMBC) led by Joseph Tarkar resisted the Fulani supremacist agenda. In the same vein most recently, Ahmadu Salisu Badu, a Fulani Jihad flag bearer, President of the Fulani Nationality Movement of Nigeria (FUNAM), on the 2nd day February, 2020, in his unapologetic response to the incessant massacre in Plateau and Benue State by what he called “Fulani Strike Force”, claims Fulani ownership of Benue Plateau as well as Nigeria. He made this claim with the highest level of impunity, threatening to further wipe out all oppositions by Fulani Strike Force.
The unapologetically promised to do much more and nothing will stop them.Today, their impetus has been more demonstrated in the incessant genocides launched by Fulani Herdsmen with no apprehension and prosecution of anyone therefore, and it gives me much concern that Benue State particularly, and other regions of the middle belt are their present exhibition ground.I call on all sons and daughters of the Idoma Nation, Igede, Tiv and Benue in general to lend their daring voices of resistance against the actualization of any Jihadist agenda in our Land.Comrade Paul S. Onyilo, Esq.(Onyilaw’s Temple and Voice of Truth).Human Rights Activists and Advocates
Onyilo, a lawyer and human rights activist, wrote from Ogun State