Blasphemy killing: Buhari demands thorough, impartial investigation

President Muhammadu Buhari has demanded an impartial and extensive investigation into the circumstances that led to the violence in Sokoto, which resulted in the killing of a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Deborah Samuel, on Thursday.

Deborah, a 200 level student of the institution, was reported killed on the campus of the college for allegedly blaspheming the name of the Prophet Mohammed.

In an intriguing move yesterday, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar distanced himself from a deleted post on his verified Facebook and Twitter pages condemning the killing of Deborah after the presidential aspirant came under threats from fanatics who asked him to forget his presidential ambition.

On its part, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) blamed the ugly incident on the failure of government to deal decisively with blasphemy-related killings

Reacting to Deborah’s killing in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, President Buhari condemned the killing of the student, even as he deplored the idea of people taking the law into their own hands.

The President, who described the development as a cause for concern, also noted that the teachings by religious leaders do not support any believer judging the action of another person.

“President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemns the resort to self-help by the mob in Sokoto, resulting in violence, destruction and killing of a second year student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Deborah Samuel, following an allegation that she had blasphemed Muhammad (SAW), the Prophet of Islam, on Thursday.

“President Buhari said the news of the killing of the young lady by fellow students was a matter of concern and demanded an impartial, extensive probe into all that happened before and during the incident.

“The President noted that Muslims all over the world demand respect for the Holy Prophets, including Isah (Alaihissalaam, Jesus Christ) and Muhammad (SAW), but where transgressions occur, as alleged to be the case in this instance, the law does not allow anyone to take matters into their hands.

“Moreover, religious leaders preach that it is not for the believer to judge the actions of another person. The constituted authority must be allowed to deal with such matters when they arise,” the statement said.

According to the President, “no person has the right to take the law in his or her own hands in this country. Violence has and never will solve any problem.”

President Buhari also directed the Ministries of Information and Culture, Police Affairs and that of Communications and Digital Economy to work with GSM providers and tech companies to help contain the spread of false and inflammatory information through social media.

The President extended the nation’s condolences to the family of the deceased student and wished those that were injured quick recovery.

He commended the immediate response to the incident by the Sokoto State Government and urged religious and community leaders to call citizens’ attention to the need to exercise the right to freedom of speech responsibly.

President Buhari called for tempered comments by the media and calm among the general population while investigation is ongoing to find out the remote and immediate causes of the incident.

Atiku disowns social media posts condemning student’s murder

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday distanced himself from a deleted post on his verified Facebook and Twitter pages condemning the killing of Deborah after coming under threats from fanatics of northern origin who asked him to forget his presidential ambition.

The post of the former vice president was made around 10:20 pm on Thursday but checks by The Nation showed that it was deleted less than an hour later.

The post and another one made in Hausa had generated thousands of reactions and backlashes within minutes, according to a screenshot.

Most of the comments were from fundamentalists who warned the politician not to condemn the murder of the Christian student.

The now deleted post by Atiku had read: “There cannot be a justification for such gruesome murder. Deborah Yakubu was murdered, and all those behind her death must be brought to justice.

“My condolences to her family and friends.”

In another post in Hausa on the verified Hausa Facebook handle of the People’s Democratic People (PDP) presidential aspirant, he claimed that the initial post was not from him, stating that any post that does not come with AA should be disregarded.

“Cikin wannan dare na samu bayanin cewa anyi wani rubutu da babu amincewa da umarni na. Da wannan nake amfani na sanar da cewa duk wani rubutu da babu alamar AA ba daga wajena bane. Allah ya kiyaye – AA (This evening, I received information that a post was made that doesn’t agree with my orders. I use this to announce that any post without AA is not from me. May God protect – AA)”

Minutes after Atiku deleted the tweets, tweeps took to their handles to vehemently react to the development, thereby making the PDP aspirant to trend on Twitter.

Popular tweep, Morris Monye, said: “Atiku was not really sympathetic. Tried to appease the South, saw reaction from the North, deleted. He feels it’s better not to offend the North than offend the South because Southerners are slaves and will vote for him anyways. Our politicians are the wickedest people on earth.”

Lecturer Ogbeni Dipo Awojide tweeted: “Such a good tweet from Atiku Abubakar condemning the brutal murder of Deborah Yakubu. It’s really embarrassing it was deleted, especially after his silence about the Pantami saga.”

Shehu Gazali Sadiq said: “Atiku Abubakar deleted his tweet condemning the murder of Deborah in Sokoto because Muslims are threatening not to vote for him. His ambition is more important than human life.”

Comedian Mr Macaroni said: “Atiku deleting the tweet condemning the gruesome murder of Deborah shows what we have been preaching this whole election season. Politicians don’t care for the people. They only play to the gallery when seeking for our votes. The people must see beyond these gimmicks.”

Yasir Kabir said: “Let him be informed that he has already lost our vote, and in sha Allah he’ll not be president.”

Godzilla tweeted: “Atiku Abubakar basically wanted to play politics with the death of a person killed by religious mob. When same people came for him, he deleted his condemnation of their acts, people that in the first place will not vote for him. This man should not be president”.

CAN calls for prosecution of perpetrators, say enough is enough

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday condemned the gruesome murder of Deborah by some extremist fellow students who stormed her hostel and dragged her out before they beat her to death and set her body ablaze for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

In a statement issued by CAN’s General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, the association stated that the unlawful and dastardly action of the perpetrators must not only be condemned by all right thinking people, security operatives must fish them out and prosecute them.

CAN noted that the failure of security agencies and government to respond to such criminal acts in the past was what gave birth to terrorists and bandits.

It stressed that as long as the state fails to bring such “beasts and criminals” to book, the society will remain their killing fields.

CAN hailed the swift reaction of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, who did not only condemn their action but called on the security agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice.

It urged Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State to ensure that the matter is not swept under the carpet, as it once was.

CAN said: “We also call on all teachers and preachers of religious intolerance, extremism and terrorism to repent before the wrath of God descends on them if the state failed to bring them to book. They are agents of death amidst us.

“We recall the provocative and demeaning advertisement of Sterling Bank where the bank compared the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to “Agege bread”, up till now, nobody was attacked and even the CAN leadership has accepted the apology tendered by its Chief Executive, Abubakar Suleiman.

“Killing for any God in the name of blasphemy is ungodly, satanic, foolish, reprehensible and totally unacceptable. This is not a Stone Age and Nigeria is not a Banana Republic.

“Nigeria remains a non-religious state where no religion is supreme to the other.

“We acknowledge and commend the restraint of the Christian students of the college who refused to embrace self-help and reprisal attacks on those who murdered their colleague.

“It is our prayers that those vampires in religious garments will not push the country into a religious war.

“This is why both the government and the security agencies must stop treating them with kid gloves. Enough is enough.”

Tambuwal suspends political shuttle, meets with Kukah, others

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, yesterday suspended his political shuttle in Abuja and rushed back to Sokoto over Thursday’s brutal killing of Deborah.

A statement issued by the media aide of the governor, Mohammed Bello, said Tambuwal had, on his arrival in Sokoto, met with the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Kukah.

Mohammed added that the governor also met and deliberated with Muslim leaders and other stakeholders on the need to maintain peaceful coexistence among residents of the state, irrespective of ethnic and religious persuasions.

The statement reads: “Governor Tambuwal had to cut short his various official engagements in Abuja, the nation’s capital, to rush to Sokoto in view of the importance of the various consultations.

“The Governor has resolved to meet with all relevant bodies and groups to ensure that the peace which Sokoto is known for is preserved.

“Governor Tambuwal, a while ago, met with a broad spectrum of Muslim leaders in the state at the Government House, Sokoto to deliberate on the way to maintain peace and harmony amongst its citizens of all religions, following the killing of Deborah Samuel.

“It should be noted that Governor Tambuwal was billed to visit Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states today in continuation of his presidential consultations.

“But he had to cancel the visits to consult with citizens and religious leaders to ensure security of lives and property of all residents of Sokoto State.”

The brutal killing of Deborah by her fellow students has continued to attract public outcry and widespread condemnation among Christian communities across the country.

Governor Tambuwal, who is one of the presidential aspirants of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

has in the past few weeks been criss-crossing the country to sell his candidacy to delegates ahead of the party’s presidential primaries scheduled for May 28-29.

Senior lawyers clash over cancelation of Sokoto conference

Senior lawyers were sharply divided yesterday on whether the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) Conference scheduled for Sokoto between May 22 and 26 should hold in the city following the lynching of Deborah by her schoolmates.

On Thursday, activist-lawyer, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, SAN, in a statement called on the Chairman of NBA-SPIDEL, Monday Ubani, to consider cancellation of the conference or move it to another northern state.

“I humbly urge NBA-SPIDEL not to hold any meeting or conference in the state where a Nigerian citizen has been brutally murdered and burnt to death. It is barbaric and lawyers should not be seen dancing on her grave in that state,” he said.

Adegboruwa added: “We should make a statement to the government by canceling the conference and hold it in a neighboring state in the North.

But replying in a Facebook post, Ubani urged caution on the delicate issue. While condemning the murder, the SPIDEL Chairman also condemned Adegboruwa’s call.

Ubani said: “Gentlemen, let us all be circumspect over the sad Sokoto incident. The barbaric killing is condemnable as no individual has any right under our present jurisprudence to take life except in accordance with due process.

“Assuming but not conceding that the said lady has committed a written and known crime, the state alone has the requisite power to prosecute and punish the alleged crime. Extra judicial killing is not allowed by our laws.

“Having said that, it will be preposterous for someone who is a lawyer to be suggesting that we should cancel our conference that is billed to take place in Sokoto because of the acts of law breakers in the state.”

He said he had sent a text to Governor (Aminu Tambuwal) and the AG and “requested for a statement that our safety is guaranteed.

“I am in touch with the President of the Bar, Mr Olumide Akpata, and if there is any need to take a drastic decision about the conference in Sokoto, we will ensure prompt communication to the constituency.

“It is absolutely wrong for our colleagues without locus to be calling for a boycott of the conference when the state government that is hosting is not complicit in this heinous crime unless there is evidence to the contrary.

“It is like asking for conferences billed for Owerri to be canceled because of the killings of two army personnel (husband and wife) by unknown gunmen or asking that we cancel conferences in Abuja because of some of the killings that have taken place there recently.

“Is there any sound logic to such rash requests? Let us be patient and await statement from the appropriate authority sirs. Please take it easy gentlemen, I plead.”

But Adegboruwa fired back: “Learned Counsel and Comrade, your points could have been made without the insults sir. You were unduly emotional in this, perhaps because you’re directly involved.

“It is within our right as lawyers to make any call sir, and we don’t, by whatever means, deserve the kind of language you have employed here, to crucify your colleagues.

“I find this totally unacceptable sir. As a leader of the Bar, you’re to represent our interests, sir. The NBA exists for the promotion and protection of human rights, the most basic of which is the right to life, which has been brutally violated in this case. I honestly don’t think you should have made this statement sir.”

The altercations opened a floodgate of reactions from lawyers on social media.

Former National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Prof Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, in a long reply, condemned Ubani’s position.

He said: “I am gratified that the Chairman of SPIDEL, my brother, Monday Ubani, MoU, has responded to this horrific incident in Sokoto. Sadly, much of the contents of his statement is beside the point at best. Other parts are gratuitously insulting.

“It seems clear his statement is more focused on saving a conference, which can take place anywhere, or on NBA politics, which is unending rather than on valorising human life and responsible government.

“The issues here are clear and his statement fails to reckon with any of them at all. That is why I consider it necessary to respond.”

The don cancelled his participation in the conference, adding, “I will, in addition, actively campaign against the meeting”.

Malam Yusuf Shehu Usman from Lafia, Nasarawa State opined that the killing of Deborah was wrong and unlawful.

“Under the Islamic Shari’ah System the power to punish blasphemy rests in the court and not in the barbaric opinion of a crowd, no matter how pious they may be.

The Sokoto Issue cannot be supported under any law or reason. It’s murder pure and simple, and it must be prosecuted according to the our criminal laws.”


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