Peace has gradually returned to Sokoto following the 24 hours curfew imposed by the state government after Saturday’s violent protests.
The protesters were demanding the release of the two suspects arrested by the police in connection with the killing of Deborah Samuel, a second level female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto over blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
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Our reporter who visited some of the volatile areas observed the presence of heavily armed security operatives who were enforcing the 24-hours curfew already imposed by the state government.
These areas include Emir Yahya Road, Kanwuri (where the Sultan’s palace is located), Ahmadu Bello Way and Aliyu Jodi Road.
However, shops and markets were still under locks and keys, thus making it difficult for residents to get some of their basic needs.
One of the residents told Daily Trust that the operatives came to their area and forced all shop owners to close and even pay fines.
Our reporter also observed that security operatives used their vehicles to block roads and only allowed passages to essential workers after a thorough search.
However, the spokesman of the Sokoto State Police Command could not be reached for comments at the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, the Northern Governors Forum has condemned the killing of the student, describing it as a case of using an extra-judicial measure to address the perceived infraction.
Chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement yesterday warned that any attempt to adopt self-help in addressing grievances whether religious or otherwise would only lead to further chaos that could threaten law and order as well as the general peace and security of the society.
Lalong while commiserating with the victim’s family, said the northern governors had demanded that the security agencies be allowed to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that the law took its full course on anyone found wanting.
The governors, however, appealed for calm following reports of the hijack of a peaceful protest which later turned violent and led to the imposition of a curfew in the Sokoto metropolis.
The forum commended Governor Aminu Tambuwal for taking proactive efforts to restore normalcy in the state.
It assured of the governors readiness in dealing with the matter and ensuring that all necessary measures were taken to forestall future occurrence in any part of the region and nation at large.
The forum urged Nigerians to continue to show love, tolerance and respect for one another irrespective of faith, ethnicity, or other affiliations.
CAN demands members’ withdrawal from NIREC
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from 19 Northern states and Abuja has demanded that all Christian leaders withdraw their participation from the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) over the killing.
The Public Relations Officer of the bloc, Chaplain Jechonia Gilbert, said this on Sunday in Abuja.
The NIREC under the co-chairmanship of Sultan of Sokoto and President of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III; and President of CAN, Dr Samson Ayokunle, was formed to engender religious harmony in the country.
“While CAN does not and will not encourage casting aspersions on any religion or religious leader of any faith, it frowns on hiding under the gab of any religious extremism to perpetrate any form of criminality against its members, especially in northern Nigeria.
“We are urging all Christian leaders to terminate their participation in NIREC) until their counterparts of the Islamic faith show commitment to tame their followers on equal terms.
“God Almighty is not and can never be a weak God for a mere mortal to fight and defend Him. On the contrary, it is He who keeps, watches, and defends us. CAN believe that life is sacred and must never be taken by another unless as directed by the state,” Gilbert said.
He expressed the beliefs of CAN that Nigeria is a country governed by the rule of law and order, hence any act of lawlessness and criminality must not be swept under the carpet.
The body discouraged Christian parents from sending their children to any school in Sokoto, pending when the federal and state governments would be ready and willing to secure the lives of the students in Sokoto and other states.
The body also called on the government to demonstrate the political will to prosecute the killers.
Sokoto suspends schools resumption by 1 week
However, the Sokoto State government has announced the suspension of the resumption of basic and secondary schools in the state by one week.
The News of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the schools are supposed to resume on Sunday and Monday, for boarding and day students.
The suspension was announced via a statement by Malam Ibrahim Iya, spokesperson of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, on Sunday in Sokoto. The statement said that the suspension was a sequel to the 24-hour curfew declared by the government.
It added that the Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr Bello Guiwa, directed all public and private schools to resume on May 22, for boarding and May 23, for day students.
“However, final year students who are supposed to begin their WAEC examination on Monda, 16th May 2022 are not affected,” the statement added.
Prophet Muhammad didn’t kill when insulted – Gumi
Also reacting, an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has faulted the school of thought that killing is the punishment for blasphemy, saying Prophet Muhammad never killed for blasphemy during his time despite insults from his critics.
Gumi stated this during his religious teaching class in his Kaduna Juma’at Mosque, according to PRNigeria.
He said if the prophet refrained from killing or attacking his traducers and those who blasphemed him while alive, those killing for the same offence had no justification for their actions.
The Kaduna based scholar, in a video clip obtained and translated by PRNigeria, said the prophet’s refusal to avenge the insults non-Muslims were raining on him while he was alive was because he did not want to be regarded or tagged a killer.
He observed that the best way Muslims could show that they love Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is by adhering to his religious teaching, and totally obeying him, instead of killing people over trivial issues.
According to him, both Nigerian Muslims and Christians have agreed to live harmoniously together, hence no religious law is applied in the country, being a secular State.
“Hence, anyone who kills a non-Muslim who they have agreed to live peacefully with will not smell the fragrance of Paradise for 40 years.
“If we think by killing Deborah, people who are not of the same faith with us will stop insulting our prophet, then we are in delusion,” PRNigeria quoted him as saying.
Tension in Borno; military, police conduct show of force
Personnel of Nigeria Army, Police, National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Civilian Joint Taskforce (C-JTF) yesterday embarked on a show of force in Maiduguri, Borno State capital and its environs.
This followed rumours of a planned protest over blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The exercise was part of activities line up by the Borno State Police Command, which engaged critical stakeholders in a peace building meeting at the weekend.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the meeting, Borno State Commissioner of Police, Abdu Umar, who convened the meeting at the instance of the state government, disclosed that an intelligence report indicated that some elements were already planning for a shutdown in the city in reaction to the Sokoto State incident.
He said, “We in Borno, have suffered our share of security challenges in the past 12 years, as such, we don’t want to go through that experience again, hence, the need to proactively engage the stakeholders to beckon on their followers to sustain the peace being enjoyed at the moment.”
“We have not only engaged the religious leaders, the police and other security agencies have, since the unrest started in Sokoto, deployed personnel across the state capital and also stepped up our surveillance.
“In case of any eventuality or surprise, we are also going to embark on a show of force from Sunday to alert residents that we are active, on alert, and battle ready to pounce on anybody that will want to attempt to disturb public peace,” the CP added.
No jungle justice in Islam –Muslim Watch
The Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWGN) in a press statement in Ilorin signed by the National Coordinator, Ibrahim Abdullahi, described the killing as unfortunate.
It reiterated that Islam frowned on jungle justice in whatever form.
MMWGN called on Muslims in Nigeria and in Sokoto State to heed the advice of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, on the matter. It also called for calm and restoration of peace in the state and advised protesting youths to stop breaching public peace.
“Islam is a religion of peace and we should stop misrepresenting Islam and get better educated.
“It is un-Islamic to kill anyone for whatever reason except if such a person committed murder and is condemned to death by a Court of Law. There is no jungle justice in Islam,” he noted.
On the call for the release of suspects arrested by the police over the crime, the group called on the security agencies in Sokoto to fish out the real perpetrators and their collaborators “instead of ‘arresting only two persons after two days of a mob action”.
The group advised non-Muslims to steer clear of provocative religious pronouncements, social media posts and religious broadcasts capable of causing a religious riot.
Don’t foment trouble in Ibadan, chiefs warn residents
Family heads in Ibadanland, traditional chiefs, senior and high chiefs on Sunday urged religious organisations and youths not to take the advantage of the crisis in Sokoto State to foment trouble in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The chiefs said the co-existence of Muslims, Christians, and traditionalists in Ibadanland was one of the strengths of the ancient city.
They stated this in a communiqué issued after their joint meeting in Ibadan.
The chiefs warned that any attempt to attack any ethnic group in the land would be resisted.
They noted that Ibadaland had been very peaceful and accommodative, adding that no family in Ibadaland that devoid of at least two of the three religions.
From Abbas Jimoh (Abuja), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Hassan Ibrahim (Maiduguri) & Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan)