On May 12, 2022, Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a 200 level Home Economics student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was lynched by her fellow students on allegation of committing Blasphemy.
Deborah was dragged out of the security room where she was hiding, by a mob. She was mercilessly beaten, tires thrown around her neck and set ablaze by her colleagues, young Islamic fanatics.
Each time I tried to write about this case, I usually freeze, unable to manage more than a few words. I just stop because I feel a hopeless sadness pierce at my heart. A total confusion and perplexed at the sanity of the perpetrators and of those who still hold religious beliefs so dearly that they would harm others or even kill for their God or religious beliefs.
Deborah Yakubu was accused of committing Blasphemy against Islam/ Prophet Mohammed on a WhatsApp group. It is not very clear exactly what she said that her murderers considered blasphemous and worth lynching her over. Some have said Deborah, as a Christian, credited Jesus for helping her pass her exams. Some said she allegedly made a comment on WhatsApp, criticizing the religion-related posts that Muslim classmates discussed in the study group she believed should have been reserved for academic purposes. Whatever it was, it was allegedly deemed to be blasphemous, especially as Sokoto State, where the college of Education is located, is an Islamic state, although it is still part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is a Federal State and constitutionally a secular State, although the culture and behaviours suggest otherwise.
Nigeria has 32 States that make up the Federation. The North is largely Muslim while the South is largely Christian.
There has been public outcry in many parts of Nigeria following this dastardly act, with many calling for Justice.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Amnesty International (AI), the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) all condemned the dastardly act. You can read the many statements from different organisations in this Guardian report.
Catriona Laing, British high commissioner to Nigeria, called for the prosecution of the killers of Deborah. She tweeted, “I condemn the murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto, and urge the police and relevant authorities to ensure the perpetrators of this horrific act are made to face justice in line with the law.”
The Nigerian Bar Association announced that its conference that was scheduled to hold in Sokoto State from Sunday, May 22 to 26, 2022, has been cancelled because of the murder.
In a statement, signed by NBA President, Olumide Akpata, he said ” The NBA is deeply worried not just by the chilling news of the murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu, but also by the sudden and sad turn of events and the deteriorating security situation in Sokoto State.”
Akpata also expressed NBA’s concerns regarding the charges preferred against suspects that have been arraigned for the gruesome murder of the student.
“We are, however, worried by yet-to-be-confirmed reports reaching us that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace in an episode that cut short Deborah’s life in her prime,” he said adding that the NBA is opposed to a “banalisation of the situation.”
Breach of peace? Really? A gruesome murder was committed in public, and they are charging the suspects with “breach of peace”? Words fail me.
Humans have been perpetrating unfathomable evils since they started creating Gods in their own image. The evils committed in the name of religion since time immemorial are just incomprehensibly evil, abominable and unfortunately still celebrated in the two precious holy books of Christians and Muslims.
I never met another Atheist before I became an Atheist. As a young teenager enthusiastic about her Christianity and about winning Bible quizzes, I simply read the Bible in all its entirety and knew there and then that my morality is far superior to that of the God portrayed in the fictional but gruesome holy book. I could not in all consciousness continue to worship or celebrate a sadistic God that was portrayed as responsible for the murders, genocide and jealous killings of even children.
Is it any wonder that some people who worship this God want to be just like him? I mean, what would God do in this circumstance if he were in that WhatsApp Group? Most probably get jealous, angry, throw a tantrum, and set the alleged blasphemer ablaze himself.
Well, it wouldn’t be a first, no matter what the religious believers say, be they Christians or Muslims. The Abrahamic God is not exactly known for His even temper and kind heartedness towards those who have any other God besides Him. Afterall, believers gleefully inform us that their God is busy preparing an everlasting burning fire where unbelevers like myself will burn in hell forever. How are sane people with empathy even capable of loving anyone, be it God or man, who is capable of thinking such evil deed, let alone carry it out? I say, show me your God and I will tell you who you are.
Deborah was an ardent Christians. I have seen some wonder why her God, the Christiaan God, did not step in and prevent her murder, smite the Islamic fanatics and show himself as the true God.
It is futile asking this type of question. It reminds me of the age-old question of Epicurus
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
It has been three weeks since the gruesome lynching and it seems Nigerians have already moved on to the next story on social media, the suicide of a successful single middle-aged woman. Another sad incident I shall write about in my next blog.
Until then, please try not to lose your humanity in this often inhuman world and definitely do not lose hope in humanity even though this seems to be the most difficult thing for me right now.
My heartfelt condolences to the family of Deborah Samuel Yakubu.
8 students burnt to death for Blasphemy against Islam