Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Muslim Media Practitioners, MURIC, others condemn stoning to death of Sokoto female student, Kukah appeals for calm

The Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State has been shut down after what appears to be a religiously-motivated riot, that led to the gruesome killing of a 200-level student, Deborah Yakubu.

Deborah Samuel a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State was brutally killed on Thursday by her fellow students over remarks considered to be an insult to Prophet Mohammed.

In a video of the incident seen by AIT, the young student was seen being stoned and clobbered with sticks as her body lay motionless.

AIT gathered that the act was motivated by a claim of blasphemy, with a mob resorting to the violent attack.

In a statement signed by Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, the diocese who described the act as murder, “condemned the incident in the strongest terms”, with a “call on the authorities to investigate the tragedy, and ensure all the culprits are brought to book.”

The statement says the only obligation that is owed to the family of Deborah and her fellow students, is the assurance that those guilty of the inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to extant laws.

The diocese urges all Christians in Sokoto to remain calm, and pray for the repose of Deborah’s soul.

Also, the Sultan of Sokoto has condemned the incident, calling on “security agencies to bring perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to justice.”

A statement signed by the secretary of the sultanate council of Sokoto, Sa’idu Maccido, appeals for all to remain calm and ensure peaceful coexistence among all the people of the state and the nation.

The Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) has condemned in strong terms the jungle justice meted out to a girl (Deborah) in Sokoto state on the excuse of committing blasphemy against the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW) on Thursday, describing such action as anti- Islam, barbaric and sad.

In a statement by the National President of MMPN, Abdur-Rahman Balogun in Abuja described the case of mob killing of the girl in Sokoto as a criminal offence in Islamic law.

Allah says in Qur’an 5 verse 32 thus: … We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it is for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people…”. The punishment for any offence in Islamic law is decided by a judge. No other member of the public has that jurisdiction.

In essence, it is a criminal offence in the Shari’ah of Islam for anyone or any group to take the law into their hands.

Even if it is a crime committed against the state, it is when the specific punishment is prescribed in the Qur’an or Hadith, only a competent judge of a Shari’ah court is allowed to approve of the witnesses and evidence, and to give the sentence for the execution of the appropriate punishment.

In essence, anyone who takes the law into their hands is a crime that should be punished for their crime.

As a body of Muslim Media Practitioners, we join all others to condemn this barbaric act and call for immediate justice for any individual or group of people found guilty of perpetrating this dastard act.

Again, what happened in Sokoto is a manifestation of ignorance of what the religion of Islam preaches, hence the need for Islamic scholars to renew their commitments to preaching peace, love, tolerance and understanding as taught by the Prophet Muhammad himself.

The Prophet (S.A.W) during his life time was maligned, insulted and attacked but he didn’t retaliate or order any Muslim to prosecute any of them, hence, people accepted Islam during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad ( S.A.W ) because of his exemplary and worthy character.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) in a statement released by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Friday, 13th May 2022, MURIC described the killing as outrageous, illegal and unlawful.

“A female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Deborah Samuel, was on Thursday killed for allegedly blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The blaspheme statement was reportedly posted on a whatshap group. She was asked to withdraw the statement but she allegedly refused to do so. The school’s security unit and police were overwhelmed by the crowd when they tried to rescue her.

“MURIC strongly condemns this killing and all others that have been happening in Nigeria in recent times. Those aggrieved by the student’s post should have reported her to the security agencies or to the Shariah police, the hizbah. Mob killing is archaic and bohemian. It belongs to the Stone Age. Nobody has the right to take the law into his hands.

“The Glorious Qur’an compares the killing of a single person to the killing of the whole of humanity just as it compares the saving of life to the rescue of all homo sapiens (Qur’an 5:32) In like manner, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself condemned all acts of violence and advocated peaceful conduct at all times.

“But this incident should not be condemned in isolation. The recent trend whereby Nigerians now freely shed their brother’s blood should be condemned by all patriots. In this regard, we also strongly denounce the killing of several Northern Muslims in the South East in the past few months.

“We frown at the recent burning last week of a truck fully loaded with cows in the South East as well as the killing of many Muslims of South-East origin by their Igbo brothers in the same South East. We note with keen interest that Muslims in the North did not retaliate when these killings were taking place.

“MURIC calls on the Sokoto Police Command to do everything within its power to get to the bottom of yesterday’s killing of the female student over alleged blasphemy. We appeal to members of the public to remain calm and law-abiding. Nigerians should allow the police to carry out their investigations on the case. The Sokoto Police Command has started well as it already has two suspects in detention for the killing.

“Meanwhile we remind Nigerians to always exercise restraint on matters of religion. Free speech is no longer free if it amounts to religious provocation. Even the European Court has ruled that the utterance of derisive statements against the prophet of any religion is a crime.

“We affirm clearly, categorically and unequivocally that there is a symbiotic relationship between provocation, violence and extremism. While MURIC will not condone extremism and violence, the anatomy of terrorism is becoming clearer day by day. We must all ponder over the causal-effect theory. Violence and terrorism are mere symptoms. The real disease is a provocation. Violence and terrorism are mere smoke. Provocation is the fire and we all know that there is no smoke without fire.

“We, therefore, appeal to Nigerians to desist from insulting, deriding or abusing the prophets of other religions. Muslims should continue to respect Jesus (peace be upon him) whom the Christians hold very dear. In the same vein, Christians should avoid casting aspersion on the person of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We have experienced enough religious crises in the land.

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