Sa’adu Abubakar was born on 24 August 1956, in Sokoto. He is the youngest son of the 17th Sultan, Sir Siddiq Abubakar III, who held the Sultanate for over fifty years.
Sa’adu Abubakar attended Barewa College in 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. He headed a presidential security unit of the Armoured Corps that guarded then military ruler, 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)and retired as a brigadier general in 2006.
On 2 November 2006, Abubakar ascended the throne, following the death of his brother, Muhammadu Maccido, who died on ADC Airlines Flight 53.
As the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar is the leader of the Qadiriyya sufi order, which is the most important Muslim position in Nigeria and senior to the Emir of Kano, the leader of the most populous Tijaniyya sufi order. He is also the 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).
In 2015, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV was listed among the 10 recipients of the maiden edition of the Global Seal of Integrity (GSOI), an annual list, which is compiled and authored by two young Nigerians, Emmanuel Josh Omeiza and Godspower Oshodin, under the Global Youth Coalition for Integrity, for promoting integrity among the people and consequently, promoting the well-being of the universe.
On 22 August 2019, he was appointed as Co-Moderator of the Council of Religion for Peace (CRP).