Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, and Dr Fredrick Fasehun, the founder of the Odua People’s Congress, have criticised Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, for converting some chiefdoms in the state to emirates.
Prof. OdinkaluIn posted a document and signed by the Kaduna State Ministry of Local Government Affairs in the state, the governor announced the conversion of a chiefdom in the Christian-dominated Southern Kaduna to an emirate.
The submitted letter dated May 30, 2018, with a reference number, MLG/ADM/GEN/470/S.I/Vol 1/130 and addressed to the Chief of Kauru, Alhaji Ja’afaru Abubakar, the governor asked the chief to henceforth refer to himself as emir.
The letter titled, ‘Review of nomenclature of chiefdoms in Kaduna State’, “You may wish to recall the setting up of the committee to review the existing chieftaincy system in Kaduna State. The State Executive Council at its sitting held on Monday, May 28, 2018, considered and approved the change of status of the traditional council from chiefdom to emirate.
“I am directed to inform you that you are to be respectfully addressed as the Emir of Kauru Emirate Council. Kindly accept the esteemed regards of the commissioner at all times.”
The former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Odinkalu questioned the motive for such action in Southern Kaduna.
The OPC leader also leaned his voice in a statement by warning el-Rufai not to plunge the state into a fresh crisis with his actions.
The statement read thus, “Let us seize this opportunity to alert the nation to the opening of a battlefield in Kaduna through the governor’s belligerent, unconstitutional, ill-advised and crazy instruction that chiefdoms in Southern Kaduna and other parts of the state convert to emirates.
“This is a follow-up in the script that features the killings in Southern Kaduna by Fulani militants.”
In his statement, the OPC leader described El-rufai move as a display of ethnic chauvinism, he said that the Nigerian Constitution and independent documents clearly recognise and preserve the rights of minorities to maintain their cultural identity and uniqueness.
“El-Rufai is in clear violation of the Constitution in Section 21(a). He should be cautioned immediately; and instead of this evil descent into neo-colonialism and caliphate expansionism, the status quo should be maintained. He added
“Kaduna is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state and no Jihad or caliphate expansion programme must be allowed to take root there under any guise.”
The governor denied allegations that there was a plan to Islamise the state in his statement.
El-Rufai said the chiefdoms that were converted to emirates applied to the state government and permission was granted.
In other to justify his actions in a series of tweets on Tuesday, the governor said although Southern Kaduna had large Christian populations, there were also Muslim-dominated communities within it.
He said, “There are three chiefdoms in Kauru LGA: Kauru, Kumana and Tsam. Of the three, only the Chief of Kauru aspired to be classified as an emir, like the chiefs of Lere, Kagarko and Kajuru.
“There are 32 graded chiefdoms and emirates in Kaduna State. There are three longstanding emirates: Zazzau (11 LGAs in northern and central zones) Birnin-Gwari (Central) and Jema’a (Southern); co-existing with the old chiefdoms of Jaba, Kagoro and Moro’a.
“The needless ethno-religious baiting will not erase the reality of diversity in Kaduna State.”