From Godwin Tsa, Abuja and Chukwudi Nweje
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has expressed anger over the murder of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari must rise and stop the country’s journey to potential disintegration fuelled by religious crisis.
Deborah, a 200 level Home Economics female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was lynched at the school premises by Muslim extremists’ colleagues on May 12 over alleged blasphemy.
In a statement in Abuja, yesterday, MBF blamed the Federal Government’s willy-nilly attitude towards cases of sectarian violence for the gruesome killing of Deborah.
National President of the group, Pogu Bitrus, said her killing portrays the growing intolerance of religious issues in the North even as he called on security agencies to ensure justice comes the way of Deborah.
“The manner this case is handled will signal if the government is, indeed, serious in tackling religiously-related crisis in the North, threatening the corporate existence of the nation. As a country governed by laws, there cannot be any justification in the killing without following due process. Even, in Islamic nations, there are processes for determining what constitutes blasphemy. When a mob simply puts to death someone they accuse of blasphemy; such an act amounts to criminality that has been encouraged by the state’s incapacity in bringing to book killers of people alleged to have committed blasphemy in the past.
“To demonstrate the fact that those who are engaged in killing Nigerians on account of alleged blasphemy enjoy overwhelming support, youths, at the weekend, poured into the streets of Sokoto demanding the release of suspects detained by the police over the killing of Deborah while churches came under attacks, with looting and destruction unleashed by these youths. The Sokoto incident reveals the dour reality that our ability to remain united under a secular system is being tested.
“The present administration of President Buhari must not equivocate on this matter that is leading to rising tension in the country and global outrage. As the umbrella organisation for all ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt, the president must rise and stop Nigeria’s journey to a religious crisis that has the potential of disintegration.
“Considering the activities of those who looted and wreaked violence on Sokoto in the guise of demanding for the release of suspects, it is now clear that criminals were responsible for the death of Deborah. No effort should be spared in bringing them to justice,” Bitrus said.