The ancient Sokoto Caliphate was at the weekend characterized with massive violence because of the activities of religious fanatics. The self-acclaimed Apostles of Jihad decided to take the laws in their hands following the arrest of the suspected masterminds of the killing of Miss Deborah Samuel.
Deborah Samuel, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was last week Thursday lynched and her corpse burnt for alleged blasphemy. One of her course mates said Deborah begged her killers, asking them what they intend to achieve by killing her. But they were adamant as they threw caution to the wind.
On Friday, irate and misguided youths took to the streets of Sokoto, demanding the release of the two prime suspects. They also faulted the global sympathy trailing the death of the slain Deborah Samuel. The protesters, who were chanting “God is Great” in Arabic, attempted to attack the Palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Abubakar Sa’ad, but were resisted by gallant security agents.
But the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Ahmadu Bello Way was not spared as they destroyed the windows of the main church building. At Saint Bahita Secretariat, Sokoto Diocese, Aliyu Jedo, the protesters were said to have set cars ablaze on the premises before they were chased away by security agents. To stop the incident from escalating further, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, imposed a 24-hour curfew with immediate effect.
The sad incident in Sokoto has attracted national and global condemnation. The British Government through its High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, in a tweet on Friday said “I condemn the murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto, and urge the police and relevant authorities to ensure the perpetrators of the horrific act are made to face justice in line with the law”.
Sadly, rather than condemn the killing or urge the rampaging religious extremists to stop the unnecessary protests, some clerics have resorted to compound the issues with very inciting statements. One of such clerics is the Chief Imam of the National Mosque in Abuja, Professor Ibrahim Maqari. He said “It should be known to everyone that we the Muslims have some redlines beyond which MUST NOT be crossed. The dignity of the Prophet (PBUH) is at the forefront of the redlines. If our grievances are not properly addressed, then we should not be criticized for addressing them ourselves”.
It is unguided comments like this that embolden youths to carry out dastardly actions. It is also comments like the Imam’s that make people believe Islam is a terrorist, and intolerant religion. Religious leaders like Prof. Maqari should do well to change the mindset of youths by preaching peace and non-violent approach to issues. Clerics must be very mindful of what they say to their congregants. At this point in our national life, peaceful coexistence and unity are vital things we need, especially with the coming elections.
Last Easter, Christians did not burn down anywhere, following the blasphemy of Sterling Bank. The bank’s comparison of Jesus Christ to Agege bread was worst than what Deborah Samuel was alleged to have done. Nobody was killed, Christians did not withdraw monies from the bank. There was no violent protests. In a more mature and civilized manner the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), made its grievances known and the bank’s Managing Director, Abubakar Suleiman apologised. As soon as he did, he was forgiven. That is how it should be.
We call on President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow this matter die. We seek, along with many Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, justice for Deborah. If the matter is swept under the carpet, it will be sending a bad signal. Justice is the only thing that can make the soul of Deborah, whose remains have been interred, to rest in peace. It is also then that the feelings of her parents, family, friends and other loved ones will be assuage. Until then, her blood on the caliphate will continue to haunt everyone who is directly or indirectly involved in the killing of Deborah Samuel.