A WEEK ago, Nigerians were thrown off the euphoric mode of partisan politics when a group of students of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, lynched and burnt the body of Miss Deborah Samuel over alleged “blasphemy” of Islam and Prophet Muhammad, SAW.
Not only that, hoodlums in Sokoto took to the streets, burning and looting shops belonging to Christians and non-indigenes. Initial reports that the home of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah, was affected were debunked as an attempt to that effect was successfully contained.
“Blasphemy” killings are rampant in the Muslim-dominated parts of the North even though President Muhammadu Buhari, Northern Governors, the Sultan of Sokoto and head of the Muslim community in Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, frontline Islamic clerics like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Sheikh Nuru Khalid and a host of others have come out in total condemnation of the dastardly act.
Muslim youths in the North always seem battle-ready to take the law into their hands over real or contrived charges of blasphemy. Strangely enough, this ugly trend is not evident in the South-West with an entrenched culture of Islamic adherence. Also, Muslims in countries like Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and others regularly engage in blasphemy killings while hardly any such thing is reported in other countries like the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Morocco, Ghana and others.
From the above, one can deduce that countries which have taken control of, and provide guidance to their citizens with regard to such volatile matters enjoy peace and harmony which are essential for stability, sustainable development and better life for the people.
This is something we have failed to do in an explosively diverse Nigeria. Muslim leaders in Northern Nigeria must take a greater responsibility to recondition their youths to embrace the nobler nuances of the Islamic faith for peace.
They must also submit to the Constitution and laws of Nigeria. Without these, we will always be fighting one another and getting nowhere.
We hope the efforts being made by the various levels of leadership to douse the tension will not be just fire brigade reaction.
Genuine efforts must be made to forge a national template on inter-religious relationships. People must be held to account for any breach of the law. That Imam who was caught on the viral video inciting the youths to kill Deborah must face justice along other culprits.
We call on the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, which has called for protests to do so peacefully and thereafter join in finding lasting solutions to all faith-related issues which threaten peaceful coexistence in Nigeria.
We also urge Governor Aminu Tambuwal to go beyond condemnation of Deborah’s killing and the institution of curfews. He must fulfill his promise of ensuring that the killers are fished out and justice done.
He should also lead a delegation to the deceased’s family in Niger State and provide them succour.