Nigeria’s renowned Islamic theologian Ahmad Gumi, according to PRNigeria, said the lynching of Deborah Yakubu, a female Christian student at Sokoto’s Shehu Shagari College of Education, for allegedly making insulting remarks about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), was wrong, and did not reflect the Sunnah, the way or tradition, of the Prophet.
While holding a religious instruction class in his Kaduna Juma’at mosque, Gumi said the Prophet of Islam was insulted by non-Muslims on multiple occasions throughout his lifetime. But the Prophet refused to even strike, let alone murder, those who assassinated his character, Gumi continued.
Instead of killing individuals over minor concerns, RipplesNigeria.com reported the religious leader as saying, “The best way for Muslims to express their love for Prophet Muhammad is to follow his Islamic teachings and obey him completely.”
Gumi said since both Muslims and Christians in Nigeria have decided to coexist peacefully, there are no religious laws in place in the country, which is 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,” he said. “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.”
Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights activist based in Washington and special counsel for the Justice for Jos Project (USA), compared Deborah Yakubu’s death with the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25, 2020, by officer Derek Chauvin. The policeman who murdered Floyd was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years on June 25, 2021.
Ogebe said Nigerians demand the same justice for the murder of Deborah, whose remains were interred by her family in Tunga Magajiya, Niger State on May 14.
“In Nigeria we watched schoolgirl Deborah Yakubu (aka Samuel) brutally beaten and barbarically burnt to blazes on video but an ominous silence from high level quarters on this monstrous outrage proving once more that the lives of Nigerians are the only cheap item left in Nigeria,” Ogebe concluded.
Ogebe also emphasized the importance of Nigerians living peacefully together. “If we can’t live together in a WhatsApp chat group, how on earth can we live together as a nation?” he questioned. “The murder of Deborah for simply asking her classmates to stop posting ‘nonsense’ in a study group is the final straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“A region that dominates political power but produces poverty and death must re-examine itself. Progressive minds worldwide have used social media to generate income but here retrogressive minds have weaponized social media to kill others,” he said.
He added, “Worse still is the silence, complacence and acquiescence of so-called Northern elite who are educated without consequence.”
In June 2016, according to Nigeria’s punching.com, a 74-year-old woman, Juliet Agbahiwe, was lynched in Kano for telling a Muslim neighbor performing ablution in front of her shop to make room for her customers to enter the business.
Part of a message issued after Deborah’s death by retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, read, “Let us learn to respect each other’s faith so that we can know each other and live together in peace.” Some saw his comment as insensitive coming from a president who is a Muslim and accused him of ostensibly saying if the victim had respected other people’s faith, she would not have been murdered. They argued the president should have taken a stronger position. “Forgetting that he is the guarantor of human safety and security under Nigeria’s constitution, President Buhari merely demanded an impartial, extensive probe into all that happened before and during the incident. Curiously, he directed this demand to no one in particular, probably because he does not think anyone should act on it,” wrote attorney and professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu in a commentary published in the Lagos-based Guardian newspaper.
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