Usually, academic environment is a place for refined minds and also for those who are desirous to seek for knowledge, to enhance their wellbeing and work to better their society. Nigeria is no exception. Alas, latest development at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, now talk of the town, where a 200-Level student, Deborah Yakubu Samuel was murdered in cold blood by her school mates over what they termed as blasphemy against Islamic religion and its founder, Prophet Muhammad has raised a serious issue on the secular nature of the Nigerian state where, according to the Nigerian Constitution, everyone is free to profess any religion of his or her choice. For many years now, the Christian faith has continued to be at the receiving end in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists in the country, without any decisive action taken by government to address the ugly trend.
For example, in 2007, in Gombe, Christiana Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, a tutor was killed for allegedly touching a bag that contained a copy of the Koran. The fact that she did not know what the bag contained did not matter to her accusers who eventually murdered her. Also, in 2016, precisely June that year, the wife of a clergy was killed in Kano for alleged blasphemy. Her offence was telling a Muslim man who claimed he was doing ablution to go away from the front of her shop. It is difficult to believe that a group of students would brazenly subject their fellow student and human being to a mob action in the name of defending their religious beliefs.
This murder of a young promising girl whose parents committed so much resources to send to school is one killing too many in our chequered history as a nation. What is surprising is that both the Sokoto State and the Federal Government in their statements on the gruesome killing of Deborah, failed to call it murder which it is, and also the inability of the authorities to demand that the perpetrators of this heinous crime be apprehended and tried in a court of competent jurisdiction. The fact remains that this case is a criminal offence and not a religious one, as many are trying to misrepresent the matter. That the killers in a viral video and other social media platforms celebrated the death of the young lady makes this case easy and therefore it is expected that the full weight of the law should be applied on anyone connected to this murder to serve as a deterrent to others who may have similar intentions to kill innocent people under the guise of any religion.
What is surprising is that prominent politicians who were falling over each other to purchase presidential expression of interest and nomination forms with one hundred million naira have suddenly gone quiet without any of them condemning the barbaric killing of Deborah Yakubu Samuel. This despicable act, more so in our citadel of learning is very strange, such that it cannot be situated even in the animal kingdoms. This matter should not be treated with levity, especially now that students who were sent to school by parents to pursue their educational careers to become responsible citizens have turned murderers, with their hands soaked with innocent blood in the name of religion. Again, it goes to show that most elements masquerading as students in some of our campuses in the country do not have any business being there in the first place, but because the institutions are weak, anything goes, and today the country is worse for it.
Otherwise, how can anybody explain why Sharia law should be used as a yardstick to determine the fate of a non-Muslim in a country like Nigeria where the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship? This is really the time to confront headon the reality of things in the country today rather than shy away from the truth. The sad stories that are making the rounds everyday in the society do not give any one joy. There had been other Deborahs before now and there may be more if this incident is also swept under the carpet. Two culprits involved in the death of Deborah are now standing trial in the court with their defence lawyers ready to take up the case. But these two persons are not the only students involved in this murder. t is important to state here that many Nigerians are concerned seriously about this case. Any attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet like other killings in the past may not augur well for the country. The sanctity of human life is a universally accepted principle endorsed and promoted by the United Nations which Nigeria subscribes to.
That this norm is not upheld and respected here in the country is very worrisome. Again, the collapse of the justice system also in the country has made matters worse, leaving offenders of the law to get away even when grievous offence like murder is committed. The charges against the two persons arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel were not properly charged. Their charges should read: ‘Murder’ and not ‘Disturbing the public peace’ as contained in the charge sheet unfortunately. It is important to state here that many Nigerians are seriously concerned about this case. Any attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet like other killings in the past may not augur well for the country. The murderers of Deborah Yakubu must not go free under any guise. Their crime is against man and the state. The law should be allowed to take its natural course. Enough of innocent killings in the name of religion.