A human rights group, Concerned Nigerians, has written to the UK, US, Canada and European Union, asking them to place visa bans on Captain Jamil Abubakar and Aliyu Tilde for supporting the extrajudicial killing of Ms Deborah Samuel following allegations of committing blasphemy.
Deborah, a Christian student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was killed and her body was burnt last Thursday by fellow students, who accused her of insulting Prophet Muhammad.
Abubakar, the son of a former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, tweeted on Friday night on his verified Twitter handle, @CaptJamyl, that the “punishment for blasphemy is death! in most religions including Christianity”.
Abubakar, who is also a son-in-law of Africa’s wealthiest man, Aliko Dangote, urged people to respect the religion of others.
Tilde, the commissioner for education in Bauchi, also expressed support for the violent attack on Deborah by Muslim fanatics, saying,
“Oh my god, oh my god The mouth cuts the neck. If you’re not provoked by this, visit a psychiatrist, please” on his Facebook page last weekend.
In the letters dated May 16, signed by the Convener of the group and addressed to the British High Commission in Nigeria, US Embassy in Nigeria, Canadian Embassy in Nigeria and European Union in Nigeria, the group called for immediate visa bans on Abubakar and Tilde for “promoting extremist religious views in Nigeria and making inflammatory statements capable of setting the nation on the path of religious war.”
The statement titled Request For A Visa Ban on Captain Jamil Abubakar and Mr Aliyu Tilde,’ reads in part, “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 a 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 perpetrators of this heinous crime has 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 crises across Africa and the world.”
The group said Abubakar’s statement “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!”
It said, “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 platforms 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.
“Please accept our professional regards while we thank you for your continuous act of using the instrumentality of visa ban to strengthen the rule of law and religious tolerance across the world.”