Deborah: Failure of leadership emboldens extremists

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Yemi Adebowale

Ten days after the murder of Deborah Yakubu, who was a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, by some fanatical Muslim school mates for alleged blasphemy, not even one of the bastards that murdered her has been arrested. The charges filed against the two suspects – Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci – arraigned last Monday over the murder were “criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance.” So, those arraigned are not the killers; they were involved in criminal conspiracy and incitement, not murder. That’s what security agents are telling us. Where then are the killers?

The sad news today is that not a single one of the killers in the viral video which captured the moment Deborah Samuel was killed has been arrested by the compromised police in Sokoto State. Scores of extremists were seen in the video participating in the murder of Deborah. The police simply declared them wanted this week and sat back. It took the police in Sokoto State six days to even do this. Why did the police not go after the killers immediately the crime was committed? What have they been doing in the last 10 days to arrest the killers? The murderers are easily identifiable as seen in viral videos cheerfully celebrating their crime. So sad that 10 days after, the police have failed to track them down.

The main duty of the State is protection of lives. The Nigerian State has failed Deborah. The Nigeria State persistently fails its people because of crooked and compromised leadership. This is the tragedy of the country called Nigeria. The brutal murder of Deborah will not be the last. Terrorists and religious fanatics in Nigeria are emboldened because they are hardly made to pay for their atrocities. So, they confidently continue with their carnages. That was why the terrorists that killed Deborah matched on the streets of Sokoto the following day, burning churches, maiming and killing innocent people.

No doubt, the leadership of this country has failed abysmally. That was why it took compromised President Muhammadu Buhari 24 hours to react to the killing of Deborah. I thought our President would direct the IG of police to relocate to Sokoto State to smoke out all those responsible of the odious crime against humanity and arraign them. It did not happen.

Our President simply ordered “a thorough, impartial probe of the incident.” What is there to probe again? The religious extremists who killed Deborah openly took the law into their hands. They recorded the murder and provided video evidence. Which investigation is Buhari talking about? Buhari, for obvious reasons, did not give firm instruction to security agents to take drastic actions against killers of Deborah. Religious fanatics are emboldened by this. The murder of Deborah is criminality! Simple! The responsibility of the government is to immediately ensure that those who committed the dreadful crime are identified, detained and quickly prosecuted.

Buhari and Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State have failed to send a strong signal to religious fanatics that Nigeria remains a heterogeneous, secular state. They have failed to come down very hard on carnage by extremists. They did not even deem it appropriate to visit the traumatised parents of Deborah. The political ambition of Tambuwal pushed aside the importance of the life of a citizen entrusted in his care but was murdered in cold blood.

The Sokoto State Police Command has also shown evidence of bias by arraigning the two suspects at a Magistrate court for lesser crimes instead of murder. Deborah’s case is evidently for the High court and the file ought to have been referred to the Sokoto State Director of Public Prosecution.

A compromised leadership makes it difficult for security agents to arrest terrorists and religious extremists. Looking back, it is painful that those behind most of the gory attacks by religious fanatics in Nigeria are yet to be arrested. I will never forget how in 2004, extremist Muslim students at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State, pronounced a fatwa on a Christian student, Sunday Achi, and strangled him to death. Till date, not a single one of the killers has been apprehended.

There was also the case of Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, who was lynched by her cheating students in Gombe in 2007, after falsely accusing her of desecrating the Koran while she was invigilating an examination. Murdered Oluwasesin only threw out a bag brought into the examination hall by a schoolboy and the student lied that the bag contained Koran. What about the case of Grace Ushang, a National Youth Service Corps member, who was raped and killed in 2009 in Borno State for the alleged offence of wearing the approved NYSC khaki trousers? Years after these crimes and many others by Islamic extremists, all the killers are yet to be arrested. What a country!

Killing in the name of blasphemy is punishable by death as affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2007. Those defending the murder of Deborah need to be reminded about this. A ruling in a case of blasphemy delivered by the Supreme Court in October 2007, upheld the death by hanging verdict of Musa Yaro, Abubakar Dan Shalla and others (all Muslims) for the murder of one Alhaji Abdullahi Umaru of Randali village in Kebbi State, for allegedly blaspheming against Prophet Mohammed (SAW). The current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko and the first female CJN Aloma Mariam Mukhtar (both Northern Muslims) were among the justices of the Supreme Court who delivered a unanimous judgment on that killing which happened in 1999.

The convicts had earlier been found guilty at the High Court and Appeal Court levels. In his ruling, Justice Tanko stated: “Islam is not a primitive religion that allows its adherents to take the law into their own hands and to commit jungle justice. The accused persons are merely a bunch of bloodthirsty militants or religious fundamentalists who were all out to satisfy their vindictive zeal against the deceased.”

So, the killers of Deborah desecrated her fundamental rights guaranteed in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution – right to life, right to fair hearing, right to freedom of thought, religion and conscience. They must be brought to justice. This is the only way to halt the endless cycle of killing in the name of religion in Nigeria.

Another factor responsible for the growing attacks by religious extremists in Nigeria is the support for a particular religion by states. It is so painful that 12 states in the core North have Islamic law in place contrary to the explicit provision of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution. This emboldens Islamic fanatics. It is pertinent to remind governors of these states that the Nigerian Constitution states that “the government of the federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion.” They are violating the Nigerian Constitution, the rights of others and promoting extremism.

To those blood-thirsty Islamic extremists still roaming unhindered across our country, I will leave them with the words of my very good friend, Alhaji Yushau Shuaib, a journalist and Public Relation consultant, who said: “The life stories of the peace-loving Prophet Muhammed (SAW) were those of a great man, who was mocked, insulted, defamed, cursed, and physically attacked for his faith in Islam – all of which he responded to with patience, forbearance, mercy, and forgiveness of those who had offended him.

“There are many authentic Hadiths buttressing his peaceful nature, which should teach Muslims the importance of tolerance, kindness and a sense of brotherliness. The Qur’an, the Hadiths and Shariah law generally do not endorse or justify gross acts of vigilante violence, jungle justice and extra-judicial killings. In many verses of the Holy Quran, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Muslims are enjoined by the Almighty Allah to be patient and to increase their acts of tolerance and worship.”

This is the real teaching of Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh). Under Islamic law, there is no offence that should be punished without trial. The Nigerian State must come down very hard on Islamic extremists desecrating our land. There must be consequences for jungle justice. Those managing this country must rise above religious sentiments. There must be zero-tolerance for lawlessness. The leadership must be firm and fair to all, regardless of religion. This is the only way forward for Nigeria.

Terrorists declare ‘no farming’ in Maradun

Fulani militias are still enjoying a free rein in the North-west, thanks to the Buhari government. There is hardly any crime they won’t get away with. Now, they have decreed that there must no longer be farming in Faru village, Maradun Local Government Area of Zamfara State. Eight days back, Faru farmers that refused to heed this pronouncement were dealt a solid blow. No fewer than seven of them were killed in their farmlands.

The militias have been terrorising the village since the beginning of this year’s rainy-season farming. They have vowed that no farming activities would take place within the area. An indigene of the area, Garba Abdullahi, lamented: “The bandits have been going round the farmlands to ensure compliance with their directives. We are planning to flee the village due to the growing insecurity because from all indications, the bandits will not allow us to farm this year. My elder brother, Sani Akwala was among those mercilessly killed by these heartless bandits.”

Unfortunately, security agents have failed to respond to distress calls of Faru farmers. The situation here is hopeless. Governor Mohamed Bello Matawalle has been a big disappointment in Zamfara State. He is deliberately looking the other way while Fulani militias continue killing and maiming across the state. At one point, Matawalle, elected to protect everybody, was empowering Fulani militias with his amnesty programme. This is the failure of leadership I often talk about. What a tragedy!

Still on calamity Wike and Rivers’ workers

It’s good seeing the national leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) joining the war against calamity governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who has spent almost seven years traumatising civil servants and retirees. Wike, who is vying to be President in 2023 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, goes around spending the state’s money like a drunken sailor, while salaries and pensions are withheld. He has refused to pay the terminal benefits of retirees for the past seven years. This is the height of man’s inhumanity to man.

The NLC rightly wrote Wike on May 5, complaining about his inhumane disposition to the plight of public workers and pensioners. It protested non-promotion of eligible civil servants; non-payment of arrears of salaries; non-payment of pension arrears, gratuities and death benefits; non-implementation of pension incremental rates and non-implementation of annual salary increment.

“Workers in the state now go about in black mourning robes and the children of retirees now protest naked in public. Those are all ominous signs,” declared the NLC.

NLC’s letter gives a clear picture of this clown called Wike, who is aspiring to be the president of Nigeria. In decent societies, he would not be holding any public office. Anybody talking about a Wike Presidency is talking about fascism emerging in Nigeria. May the case never arise.

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