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Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, yesterday, joined the growing number of groups and individuals that have condemned last Thursday’s mob killing of Deborah Samuel, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement signed by his media aid, Macham Makut, said the governors were concerned about the development, which they described as clearly an extra-judicial measure of addressing perceived infraction.
The statement came as Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, said Nigerians should not succumb to the machinations of the evil ones by halting the pursuit of brotherhood and peaceful coexistence.
In its own reaction, the umbrella organisation of all Christians in Northern Nigeria at the weekend condemned what it described as gruesome and barbaric murder of Deborah. In a statement signed by the Public Relations Officer, Chaplain Jechonia Gilbert, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states urged “all Christian leaders to terminate their participation in Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC)” until Islamic leaders demonstrate genuine commitment to controlling and disciplining their unruly followers.
However, over 72 hours after the cold-blooded murder in Sokoto, frontline aspirants in the 2023 presidential race were yet to comment on the incident. All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader and former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu; immediate past Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi; former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello; Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike; and Pastor Tunde Bakare had yet to comment at the time of filing this report.
The Sokoto incident, which has created religious tension, has effectively dashed any hope of a Muslim-Muslim ticket in the current political climate, as some would have wanted. analysts have pointed
But Nigeria’s domestic carrier, Azman Air, disowned a pilot, Capt Jamil Abubakar, who expressed support for the killing of the late Deborah. Abubakar came under fire for a statement he made via his Twitter handle, defending the killing of Deborah.
In a tweet from its verified Twitter handle, #LetsFlyAzmanAir, Azman Air stated, “Capt Jamil Abubakar is no longer a pilot @AzmanAir: his last flight with us was 22nd Dec 2019. We refuse to take responsibility for a comment or view of a former staff. The general public should kindly take note.”
In a move to avert a major religious crisis over the killing of the 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, the state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, had at the weekend declared a 24-hour curfew in Sokoto metropolis.
The curfew came as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, suspended all masses in Sokoto metropolis, but clarified that his residence was not attacked.
The remains of Deborah were at the weekend laid to rest in her home town, Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
Following the protests in Sokoto, Governor Nasir-el-Rufai of Kaduna State had also banned any form of religious protest across the state.
CAN had at the weekend called on all its members to embark on peaceful protests nationwide on May 22, 2022.
The declaration of the curfew in Sokoto followed protests by some Islamic faithful that greeted the condemnation of the killing by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.
The northern governors, in the statement, stressed that any attempt to adopt self-help in addressing grievances, whether religious or otherwise, would only lead to further chaos that could threaten law and order as well as the general peace and security of the society. While commiserating with the family of the victim, Lalong said in the statement that the northern governors wanted the security agencies to be allowed to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that the law took its full course on anyone found wanting.
The northern governors also appealed for calm following reports about the hijack of a peaceful protest, which later turned violent and led to the imposition of a curfew in Sokoto metropolis.
On his part, Gumi, speaking during his daily preaching at the Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna, in a video clip shared on his Facebook page, declared that any Muslim who killed a Christian in Nigeria because the prophet was insulted would not smell paradise. He maintained that Nigeria was not an Islamic state, adding that Muslims in the country have agreement with people of other faiths to live together peacefully. He stressed that anyone who killed on religious guise had committed a grievous sin.
Gumi said it was unfortunate that some Muslim clerics were quoting verses they did not understand and telling people to kill whoever insulted their religion.
Quoting several verses from the Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence, Gumi said killing a non-Muslim under the guise that the person uttered a blasphemous statement against Prophet Muhammad was not an excuse, “because Allah has told us in the Qur’an the non-Muslims will insult Allah and His Prophet.
“In fact, it is now the blasphemy will start after the killing of that lady in Sokoto, the insult will increase, not reduce.”
He added, “Some Muslims in Nigeria that want to defend Prophet Mohammed should be ashamed of themselves because they are corrupt…
“The best way to go, if we want to defend the Prophet, is to follow his teachings. We, the clerics, need to wake up and teach Muslims their religion. We must leave this state of ignorance; we have turned like animals. We, the Muslims, are not the only ones in this country.
“It is not only that we are not the only ones in this country, we must know that there was nothing the unbelievers did not do to Prophet Mohammed, but he was patient, because he was conscious that if he killed them, the unbelievers he was trying to bring to the fold of Islam will tag him a killer.
“There are people who are neither Muslims nor Christians in Nigeria, and everyone is trying to win their souls. Also, there people who are not Muslims, whom we are preaching Islam to, so that they can enter the fold of Islam and be salvage in the hereafter.
“If we now begin to kill people, they will say it is even from the leader of our faith, Prophet Mohammed, that we have learnt it.
“They will say their religion is a religion of bloodletting. At a time we are trying to draw attention of people to see the beauty of Islam, we are now scaring them away.
“It is unfortunate that we even see some clerics who are telling people that whoever insults your religion, just kill then. They are quoting verses they don’t understand.
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.