Members of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday held peaceful protests in some states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) against jungle justice and the gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto State.
Until her murder over alleged blasphemy on Thursday, May 12, 2022, by her colleagues, Deborah was a 200-level student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.
CAN, which deplored the incident, directed its members to hold peaceful protests to condemn the action.
In compliance with the directive, members of the Osun State chapter of CAN yesterday staged a peaceful protest to condemn the murder of Deborah.
The protesters brandished placards with different inscriptions such as: “We demand justice for Deborah”, “Christians are not second-class citizens”, “We condemn religious killings”, “Enough is enough”, “No more killing in God’s name”, “Killers of Deborah must be prosecuted”, among others.
They marched through some streets in Osogbo, the state capital starting from Owode – Ede in Ede South local government area of the state.
Speaking with newsmen on the development, Osun State CAN chairman, Reverend Amos Kayode Olu-Ogunrinde described the killing of Deborah Samuel as callous, wicked, barbaric and oppressive to other people’s faith.
The clergyman called on the governments and security agencies to bring the perpetrators of the act to book to serve as a deterrent to others.
charged the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives as well as Sokoto State House of Assembly to rise and condemn the act so as to let the people know that truly Nigeria has a government that stands for justice.
Also, members of the Redeemed Christian Church Of God in Osun State staged a separate protest where they protested against the killing.
Speaking with newsmen after the exercise, Pastor Felix Afe Jonson, Pastor in charge of Province 10 said they staged the peaceful protest to let the whole world know that they did not support the gruesome murder of the lady.
In the FCT, CAN said allegations of blasphemy had become lies being dished out to kill Christians, especially in Northern Nigeria, adding that women who refuse sexual advances had become victims.
The association, which members restricted their protests to their church premises, said allegations of blasphemy had been false and just for blackmail or settling scores with perceived enemies or well-mannered young girls who have refused sexual advances by the opposite sex from another religion.
CAN therefore called on the federal government and security agencies to act fast to address what it described as “this abuse of our constitution” before it leads to a more serious conflict that cannot be handled.
The vice president of CAN, in charge of 19 Northern States and Abuja, Rev Joseph John Hayab, stated these in Abuja in reaction to the violence that erupted in the Katangan area of Warji local government area of Bauchi State over an alleged blasphemy.
The Bauchi incident came barely two weeks after the killing of a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, Deborah Samuel by Muslim fundamentalists over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
Trouble reportedly started in Bauchi following a social media post by a 40-year-old staff of the Medical Department Warji local government, Rhoda Jatau, which was considered as blasphemous to Islam.
An unspecified number of people, including a pastor, sustained varying degrees of injury while many houses were burnt.
“Allegations of blasphemy have now become the new excuse by fundamentalists in Northern Nigeria to kill the remnant that bandits and terrorists have not yet killed. How can you justify the period of what happened in Sokoto, the allegation in Borno.
“The fake allegation on Babachir Lawal by one Northern actor who we have on record how he made blasphemous remarks about Jesus Christ but quickly went and brought it down on the internet to cover himself before coming out to falsely accuse Babachir Lawal, the former SGF? And we are seeing another carnage in Bauchi under the excuse of blasphemy.
“We know and have evidence of how some of these allegations of blasphemy are false and just for blackmail or settling scores with perceived enemies or well-mannered young girls who have refused sexual advances by the opposite sex from another religion.
“We are also aware of how fanatics have in the past raised lies in the name of blasphemy. CAN wonders if the recent sermons we are getting from some Islamic clerics on what the Holy Quran says about what should be done if anyone is accused of blasphemy is unpopular amongst followers?”
CAN further said that the challenge now is for government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address this abuse of the constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that cannot be handled.
“Nigeria Christians most especially those of Northern extraction have for ages exhibited tolerance despite many provocations and lack of reciprocation of our love and friendship. But these new tactics for killing our people from any and every accusation of blasphemy are unacceptable to CAN and all Christian faithful. We will not accept this brutal way of murder and inhuman treatment of our followers to continue.
“The government and security agencies should come out to enforce the law on every murderer hiding under religion. We will also wish to appeal to Christian leaders and parents to guide their children to resist any ungodly provocation that will make them say things that blood-thirsty fundamentalist can easily use to kill them.
“CAN is appealing to religious leaders from both religious divides to intensify teachings about the evil of taking the laws into one’s hand and killing another person for whatever reason.
“Alleged offenders should be reported to security agencies or taken to any competent court of law for judicial pronouncement. Nigeria is not a Banana Republic but a nation we believe should be governed by the rule of law,” he said.