Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Sokoto Killing: Police say blasphemy is crime; mob action lawlessness

“Blasphemy, though an offence recognised by Nigerian law, is not subject to the whims of members of the public for enforcement,” Mr Adejobi said.

• June 26, 2023
The body of Ms Deborah, Christian slain at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Wamako.
The body of Ms Deborah, Christian slain at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Wamako.

The police have reiterated that blasphemy is a criminal act in Nigeria and that lynching is also a crime.

Religious crisis over blasphemy is rife in Africa’s most populous country, as is the public lynching of perceived blasphemers. Mob action is common among professed Muslims who take the law into their hands by lynching anyone believed to have insulted or spoken disparagingly about Prophet Muhammed or the Quran.

Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the spokesperson for the police, disclosed this in a tweet on Sunday, when a Twitter user, @kevinpagne, tagged him to the viral video of Usman Buda being brutally stoned to death by angry Islamic fanatics in Sokoto earlier in the day. 

“Blasphemy, though an offence recognised by Nigerian law, is not subject to the whims of members of the public for enforcement,” Mr Adejobi said. 

The police officer explained that “enforcement of all laws is by constituted authorities through a laid-down procedure in the criminal justice system for possible punishment, not by jungle justice. Not at all.” 

Mr Adejobi added, “Sokoto command has been on it (Mr Buda’ killing). Let’s wait for their report and action. But I think we need to call on our clerics to carry out enlightenment on this issue.” 

Peoples Gazette on Sunday reported how Islamic fanatics killed Mr Buda in the market at an abattoir in Sokoto. 

Lynching alleged blasphemers is considered a righteous act by many professed Muslims in Nigeria.

Mr Buda’w murder came barely a year after Deborah Samuel, a Christian student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Wamako, Sokoto, was killed over a similar allegation of blasphemy by Islamic fanatics.

In May, The Gazette reported how Nigerian police charged Ms Samuel’s killers with “public disturbance” and failed to show up in court as prosecutors.

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