Late Deborah Samuel
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
A civil society group, Concerned Nigerians, has petitioned the embassies of Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom in Abuja; seeking visa ban on one Captain Jamil Abubakar, who is the son of an ex-Inspector-General of Police.
The group accused the trained pilot of promoting extremist religious views in the country and making inflammatory statements capable of setting the nation on the path of religious war.
The organisation also urged the embassies to mete out the same sanction on Mr. Aliyu Tilde, the Commissioner for education in Bauchi state.
The group said the duo chose the path of infamy by justifying the gruesome murder of Ms. Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, last week.
Convener of Concerned Nigerians, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, who signed the petition on Tuesday, expressed fear that in a country where Muslims and Christians mostly live in suspicion of each other, any misguided statement would set the country on fire, with dire consequences, and attendant refugee crisis
The petition read, “We write the United States, United Kingdom, the Canadian Government and the European Union to place visa restrictions on the above-named individuals who supported the extrajudicial killing of Ms. Deborah Samuel few days ago by a marauding group of misguided youths, on the allegation that she made a blasphemous statement against Prophet Mohammed, (S.A.W).
“The attempt by the Nigerian Police to arrest the perpetuators of this heinous crime, have been met with stiff resistance and violent protest by overzealous youths in Sokoto state.
“While most Nigerians have largely called for religious tolerance and return to normalcy, a few notable Nigerians, have however, chosen the path of infamy by justifying the gruesome murder of Ms. Deborah Samuel.
“In a country where Muslims and Christians mostly live in suspicion of each other, any misguided statement by a religious bigot is enough to set the country on fire, with dire consequences, and attendant refugee crisis across Africa and the world.
“It is in the light of the foregoing that we call for an immediate visa ban restriction on Captain Jamil Abubakar and Mr. Aliyu Tilde, the Commissioner for education in Bauchi state, for promoting extremist religious views in Nigeria and making inflammatory statements capable of setting the nation on the path of religious war.
“Captain Abubakar’s statement herein attached in media reports reinforces the long held erroneous belief by most Muslims in Northern Nigeria that the punishment for blasphemy is instant death, even though Nigeria is a secular nation, where the Constitution, and not theocratic tenets, hold sway!
“Barely few hours after the statement was made, thousands of followers on twitter, particularly of the Muslim faith, aligned themselves with Captain Abubakar’s statement and justified the cold blooded murder of Ms. Deborah Samuel.
“Similarly, Mr. Tilde justified Ms. Samuel’s murder on his Facebook page also reported by many media platforms in the country, by stating that her murderers were provoked by the voice note she posted on her class WhatsApp platform.
“It is deeply disheartening that a serving commissioner and a sitting board member in one of the country’s most respected online news platform will publicly hold such views.
“We note that Captain Abubakar made a feeble attempt to tie Blasphemy as a mandatory requirement under Sharia law. However, he failed to take into cognizance, the fact that Sharia law is only applicable to Muslim adherents. Ms. Deborah Samuel was a Christian!
“Even where there is an allegation of Blasphemy, it does not lie in the hand of the accuser to take laws into his hand. The suspect must be given the opportunity to defend himself before a properly constituted authority.
“We, therefore, believe, that Captain Abubakar and Mr. Tilde’s statements were deliberately made with a view to inciting religious war in Nigeria. We are concerned that Captain Abubakar and Mr. Tilde, although fairly educated, hold extremist views that should not be advocated in any civilized world.
“In the circumstances, we strongly believe that a visa ban on them, will serve as a strong message to all those who seek to impose religious laws over and above the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”