I have twiddled my pen for quite a while now, if not for too long. Therefore, I will foremost apologize to those that cared enough to ask about my sudden break, which to be honest, cannot be wholly justified; not even with the convenient psychological inhibition and excuse that ‘writer’s block’ offers.
For more than a week now, I could think of nothing as my comeback article but the debatable issue that has marked its territory on social media and the minds of the people for a while now; The Killing Of Debora Samuel In FCE Sokoto.
The unfortunate incident which transpired two weeks back with the college student had only spurred more strife than is likely to be repelled anytime soon. Deborah, who had pulled a daredevil stunt that had cost her her life with a blasphemous act ended up igniting a flare of holy hassle, especially on social media.
While debates keep raging on and on, exhausting all perspectives, there are tons of lessons to be learnt from such an unfortunate event.
Higher institutions in Nigeria have right from inception, embraced the diversity of culture and background, accommodating individuals from all walks of life. However, In an academic environment -a higher institution for that matter -where an air of civility and courteousness is expected to reflect, the occurrence of such episode is quite paradoxical.
Equally disappointing is the fact that Deborah was a student in a college of ‘education’. Isn’t that where we produce of our teachers? Teachers that supposedly train the nation and breed the leaders of tomorrow?
An academic environment does not strictly limit its’ scope to direct learning, rather, the existence of a hidden curriculum in every learning institution implies that ‘character’ also becomes inculcated in the course of learning. Similarly, the school as an agent of socialisation familiarise individuals with certain norms that aid in collective and harmonious living.
Holding strong stereotypical values against tribes or religions makes it difficult for one to establish harmonious lasting relationships, particularly in societies that are diverse in culture. This could be said to be a consequence of the 21st century where changes are accepted and differences are embraced, respected and tolerated.
Deborah’s utterances reflected ignorance and recklessness on many grounds. Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt. However, acknowledging that boundaries exist in every belief system saves us the heedlessness of losing respect and regard for each other.
In the same vein, even as blasphemy is punishable by death in Islam, the killing of Deborah by the mob can only be tagged as lynching and jungle justice as it is not congruent with the procedure of sanctioning in Shariah law.
For years, blasphemous crimes have motivated mob action and lynching in Nigeria. However, vigilantism in Islam have been generally frowned upon in islamic jurisprudence. Therefore, blasphemy like other criminal acts, are left to be dealt with in the hands of the law.
Nigeria operates two court systems. The Constitution provides a customary (secular) system and a system that incorporates Sharia. The customary system prohibits blasphemy by section 204 of Nigeria’s Criminal Code.
From 1999 till date, cases of vigilantism in Nigeria have been on rise and this can be blamed on the the system of law enforcement in the country which is lacking in resources and plagued with corruption.
The failed law enforcement system has motivated mob action for a long time now. This has equally motivated the lynching of Deborah Samuel. While this piece can never justify blasphemy against prophet Muhammad (SAW), jungle justice cannot also be encouraged as it does not conform with the teachings of Islam. On another hand, mob action can only be averted if the law enforcement system is revamped to execute offenders.
To ensure peaceful coexistence, we must establish mutual respect for the differences that constitute people in our society. Unity in diversity plays a significant role in developing a country.
Most importantly, when in Rome, just do as Romans.