The recent killing of Mrs Bridget Agbahime, a trader in Kano from Imo State, for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed is to say the least an extra-judicial murder by irate religious fanatics taken too far and to the extreme. Mrs Agbahime was reportedly mobbed to death by furious religious militants for allegedly using foul language on Prophet Mohammed during a religious argument at Wambai market in the very presence of her husband.
Mr Agbahime himself would have also been killed by the marauding extremists but for the timely intervention of the police who whisked him away to safety. According to available reports, the slain woman did not speak ill of the prophet, rather information has it that the mastermind was fond of provoking the deceased, like the events of the fateful day which indicated that the said man was doing performing his ablution in front of the woman’s shop and was cautioned. Thereafter he raised the alarm that she blasphemed against Prophet Mohammed so that the gruesome and barbaric act is carried on her.
This is ridiculous and unwarranted, especially in the height of the already fragile security and tension in the country, coming from insurgency and militancy in the north and south respectively. As it were, highly placed Nigerians, including President Muhhamu Buhari, Kano State governor, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, as well top religious bodies like the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and the apex Islamic body in the north, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, have condemned the incidence.
The CAN warned that killings of Christians on flimsy excuses were unacceptable, stating that the barbaric acts must henceforth stop. Similarly, the JNI, said the act was criminal and unIslamic
Whichever tone Nigerians and the various groups have adopted to condemn the act, one thing is clear, the ignoble and ungodly act is needless when such silliness was almost becoming a past time for religious extremists in the north, particularly Kano. Recall in December 1996, a similar incident occurred in this popular commercial city of Kano when a Christian Igbo trader, Gideon Akaluka, was beheaded by Muslim youths. According to report, Mr Akaluka’s wife was said to have torn a piece of the Islamic holy book. Some Muslim youths in the city went after the husband who ran into a police station, killing him instantly and razing the security facility down .Yet again in March 2010, one Mrs Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin was attacked and murdered by students of Government Day Secondary School, Gandu in Gombe State for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran. Her undoing was that as an invigilator, she collected a bag which contained the holy book from a female student and dumped it on the ground. Then the student raised the alarm accusing her of defiling the sacred book. A mob action resulted; the irate students seized and stripped her naked. She was stabbed to death and her corpse burnt and later dumped into her burning car.
Increasingly, religious killings have become one too many in the country. It is unacceptable in a 21st Century modern society like Nigeria and the President Buhari-led government must not sweep this one under the carpet in the manner he has condemned it. We need to see action. For the umpteenth time, our hearts bleed for those who have been killed by religious extremists on flimsy pretext, even though we are aware that the lists of the victims go beyond Mr Gideon Akaluka, Mrs Oluwasesin and Mrs Agbahime because others are unknown.
Good enough, three suspects have been arrested by the police in connection with the late Mrs Agbahime’s case; the security agencies must do better than that. This time the criminals must not only be fished out but be brought to justice. The IGP must show interest in this case by ensuring that the Nigerian public is briefed from time to time on progress so that other Nigerians living in Kano, especially the Christians, can continue to have confidence in the police and other security agencies for the protection of their lives and property. The security agencies must put Kano State on security watch and red alert in order to determine why the state has become infamous for religious killings. While the state is on the spot, these questions must be determined by Islamic leaders, scholars and Kano State government: What is blasphemy in Islam and how is it determined?
Does the holy book also prescribe instant killing or mob action against those who allegedly blaspheme Prophet Mohammed? Where in the holy book that permits anyone to kill or mob somebody who speaks ill of the prophets? These questions seek answers in order to enlighten those who are not Muslim faithful on how not to blaspheme.
In addition, the Kano governor, Emir Lamido Sanusi who is the spiritual leader of the Kano people must call their people to order. The Emir must ensure that the Muslim faithful abide by the tenets of Islam by exhausting all allowances through prescribed legal and religious means in dealing with cases of alleged blasphemy rather than taking laws into their hands. Emir Sanusi should direct Imams in all the Kano mosques to condemn the act and enlighten their followers on the need for restraint, no matter how provoked. We demand nothing less, and say no more killing of Christians on flimsy excuses!