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Sultan Of Sokoto Hobnobs With Wanted Islamic Preacher Banned By Other Countries Over Terrorism

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Nigerians have condemned the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, for inviting a wanted Islamic preacher to Nigeria.

Sa’ad Abubakar, hosted Zakir Naik, a controversial Islamic preacher wanted by several nations for terrorism, violence and money laundering.

The Sultan invited him to tour and hold lectures in three Nigerian cities- Sokoto, Abuja, and Ilorin, for four days, alongside his son, Dr. Zakir Naik.

Zakir Naik is wanted in his own country.

Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in March 2023, said the Indian government was working with Oman authorities to extradite Mr Naik.

Upon arrival in Nigeria on Monday night, Oct. 30, the cleric had posted pictures of him being received by personnel of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and used inciting captions to describe them as Muslim bodies of government.

After he met with the Sultan on Tuesday, Oct. 31, he posted another picture describing the Sultan as the “Head of State of Nigeria”.

Nigerians were outraged by Naik labelling the NAF and NIS as “Muslim Nigerian Air Force and Muslim Nigerian Immigration Service” and the Sultan of Sokoto as “Head of State of Nigeria”. People also questioned why a fugitive would be brought into Nigeria to preach.

Naik is a fugitive wanted by the Indian counterterrorism agency for inciting religious “disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred” in his teachings.

He first came to the Indian government’s radar in 2016 when one of the suspects behind the attack in Dhaka, which resulted in the deaths of 22 people, said the preacher’s teachings spurred him to kill people.

Sa’ad Abubakar, Zakir Naik and his son

The Indian government also declared him wanted for money laundering and inciting hate and India’s counter-terrorism agency filed a complaint against him for promoting religious intolerance and “other unlawful activities.

Before that, in 2006, Naik declared support for Osama bin Laden “as far as he is terrorising America”. He also said that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”.

In June 2010, he was banned from entering Britain by the then UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, for “numerous comments” and “unacceptable behaviour”.

Although he fled to Malaysia from his native India, in 2019, the country barred him from speaking at public gatherings over inciting racial comments against Malaysians of Indian and Northern descent.

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