Sa’ad Abubakar, sultan of Sokoto, says criminality is a human trait and should never be about any particular ethnic group.
The monarch said this on Monday while delivering a keynote address at the 2019 Ulefunta public lecture in Akure, Ondo state capital.
Herders, especially those of Fulani extraction, have been blamed for the series of crises in the north-west and other parts of the country but the sultan said the narrative is faulty.
“The criminalisation of ethnicity and the ethnicisation of criminality, which we seem to relish and promote, will not benefit anyone,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that there are criminals in every ethnic group and in every nationality. It is a human trait not an ethnic trait. Some of this criminality is economic related and will abate once we create jobs and prosperity.
“I should not take this opportunity to call on the traditional institutions, the custodians of culture and values, the bedrock of continuity and resilience to raise our voice together against denigrating our diversity and criminalisation of ethnicity.
“The globe is shrinking and the forces of globalisation already unleashed are more powerful than any one country, much less an ethnic group. We are all irresistibly drawn into a future with common cyber platform, common market and common destiny. It is therefore very important that the current strife among ethnicities is not going to benefit anybody, as it is counter-productive.”
He urged traditional rulers and institutions to do their best to stop the denigration of ethnic groups and advised them to be careful in giving traditional titles.
He said in the 13 years that he has ascended the throne, he had given out traditional titles only on a very few occasions because he is trying to avoid bringing the emirate into disrepute through honouring unworthy persons.
He added that there were still some vacant positions in his emirate because he wanted occupiers who would meet his requirements of “non-corrupt, peace-loving and worthy” Nigerians, no matter where they come from.
Ogunlade Aladelusi, deji of Akure, and other traditional and political leaders in the state witnessed the event.