By Promise Adiele
Recently, Nigeria’s newsreel was inundated with accounts of how a 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto, Deborah Samuel Yakubu was stoned and burnt to death. The dastard act was carried out by demented, rabid, savages who alleged that she blasphemed Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). The event reminds one of a similar incident in T.S Eliot’s play Murder In the Cathedral. While the circumstances in Sokoto and the play are different, the dialectics of religion and its nodal tensions are at the heart of both murders. We can rightly title the Nigerian incident Murder In Sokoto College, a fitting title for a work of literature which will permanently consign Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto to the sordid hall of infamy. Since the gruesome murder of Deborah by lunatics from the pit of Hades, many people have reacted to the incident. While some people, clinging tenaciously to religion, expose their morbid intolerance and a yawning gap in knowledge, other people have objectively condemned the heinous act tagging it a crime against God and humanity. Still, there is another perspective to the whole issue.
By every stretch of the imagination, Nigeria is one of the most religious countries in the world. Our religious piety and assumption of holiness are contagious. Yet, in this country, you find the most wicked, corrupt, morally retrograded group of people. Besides traditional religion, the two dominant religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. Before the advent of these two religions, Nigerians, nay, Africans existed in peace barring communal wars and disagreements which were eventually settled amicably. The centre ceased to hold when the West domiciled these two religions in the country. Of a truth, the two religions have bolstered the spiritual canvass of the African man. While some people through these religions have embraced peace, truth, freedom, and liberty, for many others, the religions have become a facade to perpetrate evil, defraud the gullible, murder people in the defence of a God they know nothing about, destroy properties, commit crimes against humanity, and carry on like feral beings from the netherworld. In this case, the two major religions are involved. Therefore, when some people hide under these religions to promote evil and propitiate the altar of Satan, we must isolate and condemn them accordingly. No religion is evil. You only find evil adherents of these religions – the fanatics who misinterpret portions of their religious manuscripts and twist them for their selfish, inordinate intentions.
The Christian religion accommodates millions of people in Nigeria and the world. There are many Christians who demonstrate exemplary character and live out a godly life which is a function of their close association with God. There are also many Christians who hardly read or understand the Holy Bible. They are a disgrace to the very religion they profess. Sometimes, they turn the Holy Bible on its head and interpret it to suit their reprobate purposes. Many Christians are thieves, armed robbers, fraudsters, murderers, drug pushers, and many more. Yet, every Sunday, they take the front seat in a church, paying the highest amount of tithe from their ill-gotten proceeds. Generally, Christians are wired differently in the practice of their religion. They may not pick offence for a perceived insult to Jesus Christ but some of them can go to any length to achieve a deep-seated aspiration which negates biblical principles. Many pastors are fraudsters. They make money by misleading their congregation and leading them to Satan. Such people have no values or standards of existence. Yet, there are wonderful pastors, real men of God who exemplify the tenets and teachings of Jesus Christ. All of these people abound in our society.
Many Christians are thieves, armed robbers, fraudsters, murderers, drug pushers, and many more. Yet, every Sunday, they take the front seat in a church, paying the highest amount of tithe from their ill-gotten proceeds. Generally, Christians are wired differently in the practice of their religion. They may not pick offence for a perceived insult to Jesus Christ but some of them can go to any length to achieve a deep-seated aspiration which negates biblical principles. Many pastors are fraudsters.
I do not know much about Islam as a religion but I have many good friends who are Muslims, some of them colleagues in the academic enterprise. I know there are peaceful Muslims, very liberal and well disposed of. I am aware of Muslims who are honest to a fault, kind to high heavens and forthright to all the ends of the world. They read and interpret the Holy Quran the way it should be read and understood – kindness to humanity, peace and love for all. Also, as with the Christian religion, there are millions of depraved people around the world who adhere to the Islamic religion. They read the Holy Quran upside down and only see violence, death, and murder where peace and love are written. I am aware that Islam is advertised as a religion of peace. Those who hide under Islam to promote evil, maim, and kill, are certainly not aware of the maxim that Islam is a religion of peace. The scoundrels who show no mercy to those around them, are they aware that Allah is regarded as the most merciful, compassionate, and loving? It is unfortunate and regrettable that agents of Satan have been hiding under the religion of Islam to unleash mayhem on humanity ranging from arson, murder, bombing, and wanton shedding of blood.
From the above, it is clear that while religion has done mankind a lot of good, it has also brought anguish and death to humanity. It is indefensible that any religion will encourage someone to kill for God Almighty or any of His prophets. Therefore, when people indulge in satanic behaviour hiding under religion, we must collectively condemn them and not the religion. Deborah Samuel Yakubu was gruesomely murdered in Sokoto by some deranged maniacs who, I am sure do not know the provisions of the Holy Quran or even understand the correct tenets set out by Allah. No one has the right to take the life of another person no matter the level of provocation. It is condemnable, brutish, and primitive. I have read some perverted comments where people talked about crossing the red line and I recoil in nausea. To encourage such a narrative is to support incessant killing in the defence of religion. Those who murdered Deborah were not defending Allah or Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). They were living out an innate, intolerable consciousness partly concealed by the seal of civilization.
The more tragic angle to the Deborah Samuel Yakubu murder is a report that thirty-four lawyers have volunteered to defend the two arrested suspects in the case. It defoliates every strand of our morality and contravenes all our claims to decency to imagine that lawyers, professionals, will offer to defend people who, through available video evidence, admitted to murdering a fellow student under soul-wrenching circumstances. It further raises the question of the continued mantra of One Nigeria. From reactions across the country, it is evident that condemnation of the murder of Deborah has come more from the South although some eminent, distinguished people from the North, including the venerable Sheikh Gumi have condemned the murder. Agreed that every part of the country has its beliefs and is entitled to do so, there are obvious demarcations which cannot be narrowed soon. Such demarcations like the murder of an innocent student under the guise of protecting a religion cannot be closed between the North and the South. No one should kill another person for any reason. When it happens, we must condemn it no matter who is involved.
Let us isolate the bigots who hide under religion to advance evil. We must condemn the act and not the religion. No one has the right to condemn another religion but even when someone condemns another religion, the laws of the land should prevail. Jesus Christ was meek, gentle and holy. He advised his disciplines to follow in his footsteps. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was gentle and non-violent. I have read that when he was alive, people insulted him to no end, yet he never retaliated. So, how do you describe those who war and fight for a prophet who, in his lifetime was peaceful? Recently, a bank in Nigeria, while sending an Easter message blasphemed Jesus Christ by saying that Christ rose like an Agege bread. Nothing happened. No one was slapped. Everybody is happy and God is good all the time. We must embrace and pursue peace with all men unless we all agree that the Nigerian fabric must be torn to pieces, every part to its enclave. Peace is what we all need as violence and grief do not benefit anyone. The killers of Deborah must face the consequences. Sokoto State government is on trial, Aminu Tambuwal is on trial.
Promise Adiele PhD
Mountain Top University