Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto, the titular ruler of Sokoto in northern Nigeria, head of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (Society for the Support of Islam – JNI), and president-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA).
As Sultan of Sokoto, he is considered the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s seventy-million Muslims, roughly 50 percent of the nation’s population.
Sa’ad Abubakar succeeded his brother, Muhammadu Maccido, who died on ADC Airlines Flight 53, the flight crashed shortly after takeoff from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and had been destined for Sokoto.
Sa’ad Abubakar is a younger son of the 17th Sultan, Siddiq Abu Bakar dan Usuman, who held the Sultanate for over 50 years.
Abubakar is the fifth heir to the two century-old throne founded by his ancestor, Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817), leader of the Maliki school of Islam and the Qadiri branch of Sufism.
The royal father attended the prestigious Barewa College, Zaria and proceeded to the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1975 where he was a member of the 18th Regular Course. Abubakar was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1977 and served in the elite Armoured Corps.
Abubakar holds important administrative influence in Nigerian religious life. He is the titular ruler of Sokoto in northern Nigeria and is also the head of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
Leadership of this council means that the Sultan of Sokoto remains the only figure that can legitimately claim to speak on behalf of all Nigerian Muslims. This role has become increasingly influential over the years with a rise in interreligious tensions in the country.
Sultan Abubakar is one northern leader highly referred for patriotism and oneness of Nigeria devoid of ethnic, tribal or religious colouration. To him, religious tolerance among Nigerians remain the key role of the sultanate because in doing so, other issues like ethnicity and politics will steadily addressed.
Former American Secretary of States, John Kerry, during a visit to the Caliphate on August 22, 2016 commended the Sultan for not only preaching religious tolerance but demonstrating it among his followers.
He said that the US Government would always be ready to give its support to the Sultan in his various moves to ensure religious tolerance in the country.
Kerry said that the Sultanate Council was building a community of tolerance for peace progress and political stability in Nigeria. According to him, the United States would work with the sultanate to strengthen religious harmony and knowledge.
To him, the Nigerian military has done well in subduing terrorism, adding that , “US will continue to identify with the role played by the sultan.”
Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar promised that he would not relent in promoting religious tolerance to ensure that the county is politically and economically stable.
The Sultan totally condemned terrorism and insurgency as anathema to the teachings and practice of Islam. He said that those who shout, “Allah” while killing people will end up on hell.
The monarch said anybody who killed in the name of Islam was not a true Muslim because the religion frowns at such act.
He said: “We cannot restore the dignity of man by killing innocent people. The herdsmen killing people are criminals and not Fulani herdsmen. Anybody who kills people while shouting Allah, is a terrorist and not a true Muslim and will go to hell.
Allah hates people who kill and says they will go to hell.”He sees education as a veritable tool for human development as it promotes unity, peace and economy.
He said: “A country that takes education serious tends to develop healthier and happier. Education is light and means to restore dignity of man while ignorance is darkness. Education will continue to be a veritable tool for human and societal development.”
The royal father headed a presidential security unit of the Armoured Corps that guarded the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, in the late 1980s.
Abubakar also commanded a battalion of African peacekeepers in Chad during the early 1980s as part of the Organisation of African Unity’s force and was military liaison officer for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the mid-1990s. He was appointed Commanding Officer 241 Recce Battalion, Kaduna in 1993.
From 1995 to 1999, he was ECOWAS military liaison officer and commanding officer, 231 Tank Battalion (ECOMOG Operations) in Sierra Leone from 1999 to 2000.
From 2003 to 2006, he served as Defence Attaché to Pakistan (also accredited for Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan). He later retired as a Brigadier General.