The Real Killers Of Deborah Samuel

Charles Okoh

Charles Okoh

The unity of Nigeria has remained utopian. It has remained a fleeting illusion which we will continue to pursue but may never attain, may God rest the soul of legendary reggae musician, Robert Nesta Marley (aka Bob Marley).

How do you keep doing the same thing over and over and hope to get a different result; if it is not a case of psychosis? How do we operate different laws; use different standards and measures as well as discriminatory applications of sanctions and hope to have unity in a pluralistic, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic society? How do you favour an ethnic group and religion against others and pray to God for peace and harmony; if we are not candidates for psychiatric facilities?

We have never had it this bad. It is unprecedented with far-reaching consequences and implications that can be better imagined. We are all religious bigots and ethnic champions. This has been all the more aggravated and accentuated by a President Muhammadu Buhari presidency that is not even making pretenses about the fact that there are different sets of laws for different regions, religions and tribes.

The implication is that those who have mastered how to read the body language of the president have also taken these biases and prejudices a notch further by ensuring that they continue to take decisions and actions that promote nepotism, tribalism and religious bigotry.

The result is that every part of this country is turbo-charged and always on the edge and can be inflamed and ignited at the least provocation or incident.

Penultimate Thursday, Deborah Samuel, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was murdered over alleged blasphemy.

Deborah, who has been laid to rest in her hometown in Tunga Magajiya, Rijau LGA of Niger State, was killed by a mob with the videos of her gruesome murder and being stoned and beaten with sticks shared on social media, to the delight of a pretentious northern Islamic elite.

Her killing had sparked outrage across the country, with Nigerians asking the government to fish out the perpetrators of the crime, just as some Muslim youths in Sokoto took to the streets to protest the arrest of the suspects.

Deborah has been killed and her body laid to rest. It is for God almighty to grant her soul rest and pass judgment adequately on the role played by the mob and their ever-willing elite accomplices in the north, who have consistently failed in trying to sell the narrative that this sadism is about religion. Sincerely, it is more about politics than religion. It is about using religion to subjugate and exploit the masses for political advantage.

One Anas Mohammad Sani, who is a personal assistant to the Sokoto State finance commissioner, had asserted in a now deleted post that Ms Samuel was brutally murdered because she was reckless with her tongue.

A pro-Muhammadu Buhari regime’s social media contractor, Zara Oyinye, had taken to her Facebook page to comment on the action of the Sokoto mob who killed the Christian student.

Reacting to Ms Oyinye’s post, Mr. Sani, popularly known as Uncle Anas Dakura on Facebook, insisted the Muslim mob justifiably murdered Ms. Samuel.

If you think that this is coming from an inconsequential political lackey called personal assistant, what about the position of the Sokoto State government, headed by Aminu Tambuwal, who incidentally aspires to become president of the country, in the so-called prosecution of the suspects?

Two suspects identified as Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunchi, were arraigned before the magistrate court on Monday, May 16. They were charged with Conspiracy and Inciting Public Disturbance. What can be more insulting and insensitive? The state government has by these charges shown itself complicit in this whole drama and it is most unfortunate. To think that Governor Tambuwal is a lawyer, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and is aspiring to rule Nigeria as President, makes this all the more difficult to comprehend and exposes the hypocrisy of these so-called elite leaders.

In the first place, it is not that I had given them any chance to prosecute the case to any logical conclusion, because to think so would have exposed one as being completely alien to happenings in the country, especially when it concerns matters such as this in the northern parts of the country. And also it would have been without a precedent.

Sometime in 2016 in Kano, five suspects nabbed in connection with the gruesome murder of Bridget Agbahime, were set free. Mrs. Agbahime, 74, was accused by a mob of committing blasphemy against Islam, and was murdered in broad daylight in downtown Kano on June 2, 2016. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s administration set the men free, in a manner that suggests that they are free to go scouting for more Christians to kill for alleged blasphemy.

Meanwhile, a total of 34 lawyers defended Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, the suspected killers of Deborah Samuel. The defence team was led by Prof. Mansur Ibrahim.

Of course, the accused are presumed innocent until pronounced guilty and are entitled to the services of lawyers, but the sheer number of so-called learned colleagues, who have spontaneously risen in defence of the suspects is suggestive of how well accepted the actions of the criminals are with their elite. It’s also meant to boost the morale of those who may not yet be convinced by the actions of the mob that in the event of such actions in the future there is always a ready pool of so-called senior lawyers and legal luminaries to rise in their defence.

But what those who have justified this crime have not told us is whether by sanctioning jungle justice they still think there is still a need for the Sharia or regular courts. Do they also realise that before long it will become the norm for the people to take the laws into their hands by resorting to self-help rather than seeking adjudication in the court, or the Sharia court, in this instance?

Meanwhile, in its reaction, the presidency said, “President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemns the resort to self-help by the mob in Sokoto, resulting in violence, destruction and killing of a second year student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Deborah Samuel, following an allegation that she had blasphemed Muhammad (SAW), the Prophet of Islam on Thursday.”

Nothing in the reaction of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, suggests or ordered that the perpetrators of this crime be fished out and prosecuted, as the president would want to do if this same act had been committed somewhere else, perhaps in the south.

Compare the statement of the presidency and that released by Sa’idu Mohammadu Maccido, the Sokoto State Council secretary, which called for the offenders to be brought to book and condemned the incident in its totality and urged the security agencies to bring the perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to justice, then you will wonder if there is really any intention to fight crime across the country regardless of the region, religion or tribe of the people where the crime took place.

That is the dilemma confronting Nigeria. Where those who should act fail to do so; where those who should be speaking out shy away from it and where those whose responsibilities it is to apply the law without fear or favour, simply play the ostrich, because of tribe, tongue, religion and class considerations. That is the vital link that is missing in this hoax we call building a united Nigeria.

These half-hearted chastisements, and tongue-in-check reprimands by people who are clearly accomplices, would only go further to fragment the already very fragile cohesion that exists between the different segments of the so far failed project called Nigeria.

These are the real killers of Deborah not those wrongly indoctrinated, uneducated and unexposed street urchins who execute these crimes knowing that they have the full backing of a presidency that would turn a blind eye, a swarm of lawyers who promote self-help and jungle justice and a state government who would manipulate the system to ensure that they are freed before long.

Therefore, freedom for these suspects is only a few months away. Those behind this should spare us this shenanigan called trial, we have taken this route before. My only admonition is that when this grows again to another monstrous security problem like the Boko Haram insurgency and the banditry which have engulfed the north, they all should realise that they nurtured it and that they all started the same way with an encouraging elite class.

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Professor Jideofor Adibe


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