by Ononye VC
The growing trend of jungle justice in Sokoto state over alleged “blasphemous” comments by victims
It is worrisome that jungle justice over alleged blasphemous comments by victims is taking a toll on Nigerians.This is not proper for common good of a nation with people of diverse faith.
Recently,a butcher was reportedly lynched by an irate Muslim mob in Sokoto state for allegedly making a blasphemous comment against prophet Muhammad.
This is not only raising concerns among Nigerians but has drawn condemnation across the country.
For instance,the world human rights and civil society organisation,the Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian authorities at all levels,to ensure that those responsible for the murder of the victim,whose name was given as Usman Buda,a butcher are brought to justice.
Amnesty International further said the “alarming up-tick in blasphemy killings and accusations underscores the urgency with which the authorities must wake up to Nigeria’s international legal obligations to respect and protect human rights,including freedom of religion,opinion,and expression”.
We recall the sad and cold blooded murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu,a second year Christian college student by muslim students at the Shehu Shagari College of Education over alleged blasphemous comments.
Deborah’s murder ignited so much reactions across the globe and Nigerians are not yet informed about the fate of those arrested for the crime.
There are options left for muslims to treat a blasphemous individual or groups.They include reporting to the police and dragging such people to the Sharia court.
We do not think that Islamic religion allows for public lynching as a final resort to justice of Islamic offenders otherwise it would amount to jungle justice and descent into primitivity and anatchy.The rule of law must reign above the rule of men.
Sokoto state is becoming notorious for sectarian violence and religious bigotry.
There is possibility that someone can be framed and lynched over alleged blasphemous comment.
Many of such issues may have happened without being reported.
The reaction of the Sokoto state governor over this matter wherein he said that his administration will not take “the issue of blasphemy lightly,and will deal decisively with anyone found guilty of any act aimed at degrading the personality of Prophet Muhammad”,is ambiguous and discouraging.
It is difficult to set a standard for blasphemy in a multi religious setting and it is hoped that governor Bawa of Sokoto state is not encouraging jungle justice.
There is therefore urgent need for stakeholders in the muslim communities to condemn this prevalent situation,arrest the offenders and bring them to book.
There’s also need for regular education and public enlightenment on the need for religious tolerance,freedom of worship and association instead of discrimination along religious lines.