When on May 12,2022,a murderous mob, intoxicated by bloodlust, fell upon 22-year-old Ms. Deborah Yakubu, a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto, beat her to death and burnt her corpse as policemen looked on and away, the criminals who sated their bloodlust within the supposedly sacred four walls of a school obviously did not spare any thought for the sensibilities of the long-suffering people of the Giant of Africa.
A circulating video has since shown one of the criminals showing off a match box, and boasting in Hausa language that he killed Ms. Deborah and then burnt her corpse.Whether he is one of the two suspects arrested by the Sokoto State Government and charged for the heinous crime remains to be seen.
Hovever, apart from the disturbing videos terrorists send out from time to time showing the beheading of their victims,before the Sokoto show of murderous shame,such boastful glee at the killing of another had probably never been captured on camera in Nigeria,especially from someone yet to be recognized as a terrorist or as belonging to a terrorist group.But perhaps, there are those in Sokoto who should be branded terrorists, many of them it seems.
When a busload of passengers was set alight by bandits in Sokoto on 6 December 2021 causing dozens to die in unimaginable agony, an entire country was horrified beyond description. Sokoto state, one of Nigeria`s most iconic states, has since May 12 2022 successfully served Nigeria more toads for supper.
That reactions to the gruesome fate suffered by Ms. Deborah Yakubu for expressing nothing more than an opinion across a social media platform in a school environment have varied from the sharply critical to the sharply complicit exposes a country that is irreparably divided along parallel lines with many of those who are highly placed in the society holding antiquated world views.
The Nigeria Bar Association, the umbrella body of lawyers in Nigeria, has recently joined the chorus of condemnation of the murder of Mr. Deborah Yakubu. In a lengthy statement signed by its chairman, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the Nigeria Bar Association did not mince words in condemning the gruesome murder. The Association went further to announce the suspension of the 2022 NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law(NBA-SPIDEL) Annual Conference scheduled for Sokoto while calling on the Sokoto State Government to charge those arrested so far for the murder with offences commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.
Earlier on, the Sokoto State Government had charged two suspects arrested in connection with the murder mainly for inciting public disturbance.
The NBA took its time to take a strong stand in keeping with the notable courage it has shown in the face of national tragedies of this sort since Mr. Olumide Akpata assumed office.No doubt, the withdrawal and subsequent pressure on the NBA from two of the most prominent advocates for a better Nigeria, Mr. Chidi Odinkalu, a learned law teacher, and Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili a former minister of Education, who were billed to speak at the conference played a big role in forcing the NBA`s hand.
However, with the fireworks generated by a gruesome drama that has shook Nigeria to its core having moved to the courts, it appears the Sokoto State Government is playing safe – having been exposed as caving in to the pressure from religious fanatics in one of Nigeria`s most iconic states that has unfortunately seen its secular status ripped to shreds.If this is not the case, then how have those who killed Deborah not been charged for murder? Why is the Sokoto State Government not seeking capital punishment for them in court.
The arrest of the suspects saw the many criminals who had been hiding in the crevices of Sokoto State suddenly emerge and unleash mayhem on an ancient state. The least the Sokoto Government can do is to bring them to book so as to send a withering message to the weasels who ride on the wings of religion to waste lives and property that Sokoto will no longer provide any winds for their sails.
There is no doubt and there can be none that the question of violence in Nigeria has always been about a valuation of power. Those who resort to violence in Nigeria in defiance of state actors and the instruments of state do so because they either want power to change hands to their own hands or to remain in their hands alone.They vouch for violence so that with it they can veto the voice of the people.
In a world of many religions, where religion has often been malleable to machinations of those who unleash terror on others, it is not enough to say that any religion is a religion of peace.Those who adhere to such religions of peace must show by their words and conduct that they unequivocally support peace without which no country can really grow.
It behoves on the bastions, on the custodians of such religions that profess peace to teach their adherents that peace usually comes with prices one of which is tolerance without which there can be no peace.
Unfortunately, the gruesome murder of Mrs. Deborah has exposed many shadowy clerics and government officials in Nigeria who would sooner ask their acolytes to kill than forgive.
If such shadowy figures are not dangerous beyond measure to Nigeria, then Nigerians do not know who is.