Clarion Call for Peace and Justice in Nigeria

To register their grievance and pain over the recent murder of Deborah Samuel Yakubu in Sokoto State for alleged blasphemy, some civil society organizations like Catalyst of Peace and Justice in collaboration with Charlie Boy Foundation, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Muslim Peace Initiative, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Enough is Enough Nigeria recently held a protest in Lagos. Rebecca Ejifoma reports that in their demand for justice, they also sued for peace across the country

When on Thursday, May 12, 2022, Nigerians woke up to the gory viral video of the vicious murder of Shehu Shagari College of Education 200-level home economics student Deborah Yakubu, it left most people in shock. .

The young student and only daughter in a family of nine was accused of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad and then lynched by furious religious fanatics inside the college walls.

Victims lynched for alleged blasphemy

Unfortunately, Deborah is not the first victim of such a despicable and primitive act. On June 2, 2016, Bridget Agbahime, 74, was ambushed by an angry mob for allegedly blaspheming the same prophet. She was the wife of Mike Agbahime, pastor of Deeper Life Bible Church in Kano.

Bridget allegedly asked a young man performing ablutions in front of her shop to move away. The man allegedly triggered a false alarm that Bridget had cursed their prophet. And she was immediately stoned, dehumanized and set on fire in broad daylight. The only five suspects arrested in connection with this act have since been released by the government.

In the same year, nine people were burned to death in the northwestern state of Zamfara for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad. And to this day, no punishment has been meted out to them.

Again on March 21, 2007, Christiana Oluwasesin from Ekiti State was lynched by Yan Kalare boys and other extremists for allegedly tampering with the Quran at a secondary school in Gandu, State of Gombe.

Oluwasesin, a mother of two, was tasked with supervising an Islamic religious knowledge exam. When one of the students wanted to enter the exam hall with his books, Oluwasesin picked them up and threw them out. The students claimed that one of the books was a copy of the Quran. This aroused emotions, and immediately the popular Yan Kalare stabbed her to death.

demand for justice

It is therefore to register their lingering grievances and call for an end to the relentless killings that a group of concerned citizens took to the ground in Lagos to demand justice and an end to extrajudicial killings.

They included the Catalyst of Peace and Justice (CPJ) in collaboration with the Charlie Boy Foundation, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Center (WARDC), the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Enough is Enough Nigeria and Muslim Peace Initiative.
Part of their demands include the immediate and impartial prosecution of the perpetrators of Yakubu and David Imoh’s murder, as well as a decent society for all. The protesters unanimously called for a fairer, fairer and better society, regardless of religion.

Speaking, the organizer, Catalyst for Peace and Justice (CPJ), Abraham Sam Aiyedogbon, noted: “We present ourselves as a social justice initiative in collaboration with other human rights associations. man and civil society”.

As Senior Pastor and General Overseer, Realm of Glory, Aiyedogbon added, “Let’s do it as they say. We just want a system that works. Does anywhere in the constitution say we should rape women, kidnap women. Leah Shuaibu is still in captivity. It is one of many”.

Lamenting that the nation is currently in disarray with the continued killings in the southeast, Aiyedogbon questioned, “Is this what the Constitution prescribes? Is this what the government people promised us?

The organizer insisted that Nigerians desperately need a system where basic life is possible and valued. “We need extraordinary faith, extraordinary prayer to live an ordinary life. No light, no road, no school. ASUU is on strike, they don’t pay them. And people are using N100m to get a form for APC, we are not talking about campaign money.

Speaking at the demonstration titled ‘Deborah Yakubu: Protest Against Violence and Wanton Killings’, Charles Oputa, also known as Charlie Boy, reminded the nation of verse 39 of Matthew 22 which says ‘One thing that I remember from the Bible is ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself’.”

While telling the many stories of misfortunes, he lamented that things had been going wrong for a long time in front of everyone’s eyes. “Whether we shout by tomorrow, these leaders will not change. Unfortunately, God punished us in Africa with horrible leadership”.

During the protest, Charlie Boy charged protesters with songs of solidarity, lamentations and dirges like “When I remember Deborah the water made my eyes run away”, “Today, today Our mumu don do today”, “Whatever we say, do us justice” among several others.

Amplifying his voice exuberantly in front of a large crowd in the Okota region of the state, he questioned Nigerians on what they were doing to achieve the kind of change they were seeking. So the artist urged everyone to get their permanent voter card (PVC) and get those failed leaders out.

“How could we sit still, they killed someone in Sokoto and nothing was done. In Lekki, a young man was killed in the same way and everyone passed. Nothing is given to you. You will take it. Get your PVC and vote them. It’s time to wake up. Wake up!”

Echoing his views, the chairman of the Muslim Peace Initiative, Abuja, Mr. Mojeed Dahiru, said that “there should be no place for religious laws which contravene the constitution of Nigeria because we are a country of laws “.

He also reminded the government of its duty to apply law and order impartially without favor on the basis of religion and ethnicity. “That should be the main responsibility of the government.”

According to Dahiru, “there is no law prescribing death for blasphemy in the constitution. If there is any other law anywhere that prescribes it, it has no place in the Nigerian state.

“This particular murder was committed not just extrajudicially, but in the most horrific way. Deborah Yakubu was murdered and I am seeking justice for her by bringing the perpetrators to justice and justice must be done according to the laws of Nigeria.

“Anything that is not this is not justice,” he warned, adding that “government at all levels must ensure that justice is done in order to rest the memory of Deborah Samuel and they must prevent all forms of murder in Nigeria, especially those contributed by hatred and intolerance”.

Describing this as a mockery of democracy, comrade Dele Farotimi sobbed. “There are times when we are lost for speech. I was left with nothing to say for a few days with the immediate aftermath of Deborah’s murder. If Deborah’s murder were to be an outlier, we would probably be outraged. We would then have had something to say under the effect of anger and emotions.

“But as it pleased Almighty God, it was not an emotional reaction. Responses to Deborah’s murder are driven more by intellect than emotion. She was from Kebbi State, Zuru” This is because he blamed not only the perpetrators for carrying out the crime, but also “the leaders who support the murder as killed her.

“The Nigerian police bluntly label people as hooligans once they have killed such a person. The Nigerian army calls them terrorists once it kills them. It seems that the only way to legitimize a murder in northern Nigeria is to label the person as blasphemous.

“What is the purpose of the state when the state itself becomes an enabler of crime? The blame for this lies with those who claim to rule Nigeria. And in this case, it is Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria is at war. And the reality is that lives and property are no longer safe in the Nigerian vault.”

“Deborah’s case calls for very careful reflection,” said Malachy Ugwumadu, the former national chairman of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), adding that “we have come to mourn and agonize over the death of Deborah Samuel. This protest, which is our basic inalienable right, will let the government know that we are here. And they need to up their game.”

Measures against murder in the name of blasphemy

According to Dahiru, the country needs to start the process of spiritual dialogue on faith, adding that “the government needs to start paying more attention to the kind of preaching and hateful messages that are being spread in the name of religion.

The Chairman of the Muslim Initiative lamented that a whole generation of Nigerians have been indoctrinated that it is right to kill for God. “The government can no longer sit idly by and allow religious leaders to incite hatred or incite people to kill in the name of God. No religion has asked a human being to kill”.

And while Nigerians wonder why the Federal Government has yet to launch a military-induced resolution in the North, just like ‘Operation Python Dance II’ and ‘Operation Crocodile Smile II’ in 2017 and 2020, in the same way as it embarked on the South- to the east, the aggrieved group filed its claim.

Unanimously, they instructed the government. “At this point, the government must take a definitive position on the proliferation of religious laws in this country,” stressing that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy and the supreme law of the land, therefore, no further laws should be allowed.

Quotation
“A whole generation of Nigerians have been indoctrinated that it is right to kill for God… The government can no longer sit idly by and allow religious leaders to incite hatred or incite people to kill in the name of God. No religion has asked a human being to kill”

CAPTION: Cross section of protesters during the protest against wanton violence and killings held in Okota, Lagos State

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