By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS—LEADERS of Muslim organizations in Nigeria under the auspices of Muslims United for Peace and Justice, yesterday, urged security agencies to arrest those involved in the gruesome killing of Deborah Samuel, a student of Sheu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto over alleged blasphemy.
The Islamic group also urged Muslim scholars to issue fatwah against those who perpetuate jungle justice or extra-judicial killing just as it urged Imams to use the Friday sermon to promote peaceful coexistence.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Executive Director of the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, Professor Lakin Akintola, who was flanked by other members of the group, said: “We condemn the murder of Deborah Samuel and call for justice against the perpetrators, irrespective of the nature of their motivation or the justification they claim.”
Akintola, who said the murder of Deborah, can be “utilized as a turning point in Muslim-Christian relation and herald a new era of peaceful and respectful coexistence, noted that “these are achievable ideals if each religious adherents will embrace and sincerely practice the sublime messages of their faith.”
He said: “We condemn every act of insult and provocation along religious and ethnic fault lines. In particular, we condemn in equal measure any insult, abuse, denigration or mischievous attacks against any and all prophets of God, be it Muhammad (saw), Jesus, Moses, Abraham, or others.
“We call for deep introspection by leaders of the Christian community and urge them to employ all means to fend off intolerants. We urge governments of all states of the federation to strengthen or promulgate (where none exists) laws to criminalise blasphemy and killing for blasphemy outside the law and faithfully enforce them.
“We urge Muslim scholars to issue fatwah specifically against frontier justice, jungle justice and extra-judicial killing at any time. Morseo, we appeal to Imams to use the Friday sermon to spread and promote the peaceful coexistence, respect for constituted authority and rule of law as enjoined in Islam.
“We lament the poor state of the judicial system in Nigeria and call for improvement of same to restore public confidence in the judicial system as well as prompt and effective administration of justice.
“We condemn jungle justice and lament its endemic nature in Nigeria and call for justice for all other victims of extra-judicial killings and other similar acts of barbarism and mob violence.
“We express strong solidarity with voices of reason and moderation amongst scholars of Islam and declare readiness to continue working together to strengthen the pillars of national peace, reconciliation and understanding.
“We urged leaders of faiths to continue to enlighten and educate adherents on the need to mutual respect, to focus on messages of love and work against voices of hatred and extremism amongst them.
“We call on the leadership of The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in particular to demonstrate that they stand united and together in opposition to all prejudiced appeals. We call on the organization to use the platform to denounce the act of extrajudicial murder and the alleged crime that led to it, including the high prevalence of Islamophobia, the threat of the forces seeking to delegitimize genuine concerns and those spreading hatred between the two major faiths in Nigeria.
Sadly, the tragic event in Sokoto is another reminder of how fragile peace can be without mutual respect and united leadership. 12. We pray for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for peace, for political stability and economic prosperity, combat the festering of Islamophobia amongst their followers, and prevent words and actions from the adherents of the Christian faith that are antithetical to the core teachings of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) which are based on piety, love, respect and tolerance.”