One of Nigeria’s most powerful Muslim leaders, the emir of Kano, has voiced support for vigilantes fighting Boko Haram, urging others to form civilian militias and questioning the competence of the military.
comments were made by Sanusi
Lamido Sanusi, who became emir earlier
this year after being sacked from his post as the central bank governor,
where he was one of the government’s most high-profile critics.
is extremely rare for Nigeria’s clerics to speak explicitly about
political and military affairs, but many expected Sanusi to defy
convention and inject himself into public debate after assuming the
highly influential post.
“People should be sensitised on the
importance of being on the alert. And they should prepare, they should
acquire what they will defend themselves with,” Sanusi said during
Friday prayers at the central mosque in Kano, the largest city in
Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
AFP obtained a copy of the
transcript of the recording on Monday. While Sanusi did not mention Boko
Haram by name, it was clear he was discussing efforts to resist the
“Those that are endowed as hunters and vigilantes
should apply this endowment given to them by Allah as an avenue of
earning divine reward in defending their nation,” he said.
military has been cooperating with various vigilante forces in the
northeast for more than a year, often relying on civilians to do the
bulk of the fighting against the insurgents.
Witnesses said it was
vigilantes who recaptured the symbolically important northeast town of
Chibok from Boko Haram at the weekend, with troops staying clear of the
Chibok was where the Islamists kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in April. Fifty-seven have escaped.
should not wait for soldiers to come, before they come the carnage will
have been done,” Sanusi told the congregation. “Some of them drop their
guns and flee.”
The military has repeatedly been accused of
leaving civilians defenceless against Boko Haram attacks and failing to
respond to distress calls made in advance of raids.
comments were similar to those made by President Goodluck Jonathan’s
critics, they may feed added resentment towards the government because
the emir of Kano is expected to stay above the political fray.
after Jonathan sacked him from the central bank, Sanusi told AFP that
the president was a “simple” man who had been misled and manipulated by
Officially, Sanusi is the number two Islamic cleric in Nigeria, home to more than 80 million Muslims.
But many consider the emir of Kano to be more influential than the sultan of Sokoto, who is the country’s top Islamic leader.