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Nigerian Military Man Named Country's New Muslim Leader

Authorities in Nigeria have named an army colonel as the next Sultan of the northeastern state of Sokoto.

Muhammadu Sada Abubakar III was named Thursday by local officials to succeed his late brother, Ibrahim Muhammadu Maccido, as the spiritual head of Nigeria's estimated 70 million Muslims. Maccido was among the 96 people killed in the crash of a jetliner Sunday near Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Abubakar is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto. He is a direct descendant of Uthman Dan Fodio, who established Sokoto as an Islamic caliphate in 1804.

The Sultan has a largely ceremonial role, including announcing the timing of Muslim holidays, such as Ramadan. But Maccido played a significant role in easing tensions between the country's predominantly Muslim north and a mainly Christian south.

He appealed for calm when riots broke out over the staging of the 2002 Miss World pageant, and when religious violence occurred in 2004

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.