Every life lost in an act of violence is like a million lives lost in a pogrom” – Late Dele Giwa
By Achike Chude
And so the student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was killed publicly in a most gruesome manner by her fellow students. The students were zealous for their God who could not defend Himself from the ‘insult’ of Deborah Samuel. Allah is most omniscient, most powerful, and mighty, we have been told. He humbles the strong and exults the lowly.
He knows the beginning and the end. But by the action of the killer mob they seemed to question Allah’s invincibility and capacity to defend Himself. And if He could not defend Himself from the girl, therefore, the thugs and killers masquerading as students reasoned, they had to do it for Him.
And they were proud of the murder that they had just committed. They filmed it and showed their faces – every step of the way. They knew that the reward was not only in heaven, but here on earth too. There were people, very powerful people who would call them into their homes and bless them for their deed and assure them of a place in paradise for beating, stoning, bludgeoning, and burning a human being, their fellow classmate to death – all because they perhaps think that the Almighty Allah cannot defend Himself.
You will know how powerful the dangerous human elements involved in this most gruesome of murders are by the taciturnity and silence of influential people up north over this deed. They will say nothing and do nothing, for the simple reason that the wilful killing of Deborah in such a foul and henious manner is neither the first nor will it be the last in the north.
But this is how they keep the simple and lowly, the hoi-poloi and commoners happy – get them drunk on false religious narratives while they rob them blind and steal their future. But mind you, the manipulation of religion for the benefit of the few is not a northern phenomenon only.
They have their version in the southern part of Nigeria, as self-declared ‘men of God’ constantly manipulate their ways into the pockets of the foolish and unwary, often using false talking points and fake miracles to mersmerize and confuse, sometimes setting brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters and parents against children. But there is a red line that they do not cross for the simple reason that scripture explicitly forbids revenge and vengeance on one’s behalf and, especially, on God’s behalf:
“Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord”
Fortunately, this unhappy and sad occurrence presents a golden opportunity for northern presidential aspirants in the upcoming 2023 elections to lay a marker by speaking out against the malice done to Deborah. But we all know that as the day is day and night is night, the opportunity will come and go and they will be found wanting.
Only Abubakar Atiku, horrified by this great evil was able to summon the courage to condemn this monstrosity. Unfortunately, that courage failed him thereafter, and he quickly deleted his condemnatory tweet for fear of losing votes which was immediately promised him aplenty by those rejoicing in the Sokoto killing.
Only the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III ( God bless his soul), as a Muslim, has been unequivocal in his condemnation of such a vile and perfidious act, regardless of the provocation.
But what of the great tag-team partnership of Laurel and Hardy, sorry, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu? They have yet to speak on behalf of their principal, the president on this very grave matter. Or perhaps, their barbs and venom are only meant for people like Bishop Hassan Kukah and his ilk?
There is nobody like good old Hassan Kukah to put those two on alert and at their abusive best whenever he exercises his constitutional right, patriotic inclination, and moral authority to speak on the state of the nation in a way and manner that are not to the liking of Laurel and Hardy.
But luckily, after about thirty-six hours after Deborah’s open murder, their principal, our president spoke out in condemnation of the Killing, spoke about investigation, and rightfully warning on the need for restraint of speech by Nigerians at all times in other not to inflame passion.
But there was no discernible sense of anger and outrage at the incident, no call for the arrest of the killers who deliberately exposed their identities. Instead, the president’s tweet, while condemning the Killing and asking for investigation was at the same time providing a reason (but not justification) for the murder of Deborah.
It is why most Nigerians, especially those on Twitter do not believe that the president will get to the bottom of this outrageous and unbelievable crime. Some of them point to the presence of Minister of Information and digital economy, Issa Pantami who has been accused of religious extremism with past statements of support for Al Qaida, the Taliban, and ISIS in his government.
Some of them have reminded the president that his minister, Pantami, was the Imam of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University when the university muslim community issued a Fatwa on 400 level student, Sunday Achi for distributing tracts in the school. He was picked up in the early hours of December 9th 2004 from his room, allegedly killed inside the mosque and his body thrown down from the top of the mosque.
His father, Samuel Achi, needed the intervention of the governors of Kaduna and Bauchi states to recover Sunday’s body from the grounds of the mosque. The president and his administration were told this, but they said Pantami was a changed man. They went ahead and made him a minister anyway.
But beware – for the great and most powerful Imam of the Abuja Central Mosque, Professor Ibrahim Magari, has weighed in on the matter and sounded a note of warning to everyone about the great red line that must never be crossed against muslims otherwise Armageddon will be visited on violators.
So, let us shake in our boots and hide under the bed because the Chief Imam has spoken thus. He is happy with the murder of Deborah and has said so. Perhaps he would have been happier had Deborah’s parents also tasted the fury of the mob for bringing such a blasphemous child into the world.
It is believed that the great professor and Chief Imam of the Abuja Central Mosque will not suffer the same fate as the Chief Imam of the Apo Legislative Quarters Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Nuru Khalid who was recently removed from his post for criticizing the president for the insecurity and sufferings in the country. Criticizing the president would seem to be a far more egregious crime than the cold blooded and gruesome public lynching of a young girl.
What a mess the north has become. Killings and killers! Bandits and banditry! Terrorists and terrorism! And of course, religious fanaticism mixed with illiteracy and grinding poverty – a very combustible mix for conflagration and anarchy. They can hide, and have hidden all these deficits for so long. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, deposed Emir of Kano and former CBN governor warned them about these social and economic deficits.
They have not listened. Now the consequences of these deficits have come back to bite them. The child that was neglected by the parents will grow up to be a big burden to those same parents. State or elite sanctioned murder of Deborah Samuel at the hands of youths for religious purposes is not the way and direction to point your youthful population.
Engage them in productive activities, educate them and empower them sufficiently so that they can contribute meaningfully towards upgrading their communities and country.
Lastly, let no one be under any illusion about the dastardliness, unlawfulness, and unconstitutionality of the killing of Deborah Samuel. Nigeria is not governed by Islamic law, nor Christian canon law. It is not a theocracy but a constitutional democracy.
We are not under quoranic law, or biblical precepts but acknowledge the influence of both religions, including animism and traditional African worship in our lives as citizens under constitutional governance. There cannot be two different sets of laws in Nigeria.
The determination of who lives and dies in Nigeria as a result of crime or offence committed is neither in the hands of delinquent thuggish criminals at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, nor those of Professor Ibrahim Magari, the Chief Imam of the Abuja Central Mosque. It is a matter for Nigerian courts.
It is because of contradictions such as this that many Nigerians continue to question the continuing ‘marriage’ between the north and south of Nigeria. It is what plays perfectly into the hands of ethnic jigoists, agitationists and secessionists.
There must be justice for Deborah Samuel. A word is enough for the wise!