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The Actual Killers Of Deborah Of Sokoto

By Ike Abonyi

“In Prophet Mohammad’s days he was insulted and nobody died for it.” – Sheikh Ahmad Gumi

Before delving into the matter of martyr Deborah of Sokoto, let us travel a bit down memory lane. Recall how the first martyr, apostle Stephen, was forced to retire to heaven. The scripture relates how Stephen’s assailants laid down their valuables and other encumbrances at the feet of one Saul of Tarsus [who ostensibly supervised the killing].

Saint Stephen’s blood and that of subsequent martyrs, including Saint Paul who supervised the first martyrdom as Saul, eventually became the basis and foundation of Christianity. But the Bible writers did not bother about those who stoned Stephen but cared about those who wilfully cooperated with the stoners. 

Overwhelmed by the success of Stephen’s slaying and realising that the people love the development, Saul has to obtain an authority letter from the King to go over to Damascus where many zealots are willing to lend a hand. But he ended up at Damascus as a changed man renamed Paul…he entered Damascus not as a persecutor but as executor of the gospel. He got a superior [divine] authority on the way and discarded the king’s letter. This Saul-turned-Paul was to be one of the greatest soldiers of Christ ever.

Also, when Jesus Christ was being persecuted by the Jews he did not bother himself with the commoners who were attacking him including those who pierced his side and shared his tunic. Even when the offensive and unbearable Peter cut off the ear of one of the attackers, Jesus quickly returned the ear and healed the man.

All through his earthly ministry, Jesus never wasted his time showing anger to the common people because he was quite knowledgeable that they didn’t know what they were doing and even prayed for divine mercy. These scriptural stories are the premises upon which our musing this week will be based.

Last week, Sokoto lost its crown as the most civilised and peaceful capital in Nigeria. At various times in this country, northern cities were recorded negatively at some point for religious fanaticism. Sokoto had enjoyed a calm atmosphere all this while. Many attributed this to its being the seat of the Caliphate coupled with the deep knowledge of Islam that is devoid of sentiment or political interference. Last week, Sokoto lost these enviable credentials and joined the league of other notorious cities in the north noted for intolerance.

The blasphemy story that led to the death of Deborah Samuel at Shehu Shagari College of Education is just one in much needless blood-shedding in Northern Nigeria erroneously in the name of Allah. Since the early 1980s, this ugly side of us developed through the Maitatsine uprising of Yola and has even germinated into terrorism since 2009.

The import of this discourse is that as God did with Paul and as Jesus did with his persecutors, our beam should be on those who push the fight, not the commoners who do the fighting in the erroneous knowledge that they are fighting for Allah.

The actual killers of Deborah in Sokoto are not the almajiri fundamentalists that are Deborah’s fanatical classmates brought into the College premises to stone her to death. Those who are liable for the blood of the innocent are all those who had the opportunity to put the right knowledge outside but failed to do so for other ulterior motives.

The Islamic clerics who keep teaching and brainwashing ignorant children and youths to use them for motives other than religion are the actual killers of Deborah of Sokoto. 

The political leader who keeps looking away at the wrongs in the belief that righting them could hurt political fortunes is the actual killer of Deborah. Perhaps, the biggest offenders in the recurring religious troubles in the north are the political elite in the region whose double standards are obvious.

They are the ones who should ensure that human beings given to them as gifts from God are properly and adequately developed through education. But rather than do that they prefer to deliberately raise them as illiterates for easy use for nefarious acts while educating their children in the best schools across the globe. The day you fail to provide knowledge to somebody, you have embraced darkness that comes with ignorance and rejected light. As Maiaden Dordevic wrote, “The seeds of evil bloom in the field of negligence.”

It’s this crass neglect from the elite of the north of not placing prime importance on human capital development that has put the region backwards. In literate rating, Sokoto State is about the poorest notwithstanding the founding of the Sultanate and the Caliphate over a century ago. All the Islamic cities founded at the same time as Sokoto are today tourist destinations across the world but Sokoto has remained exceedingly poor by the United Nations development index. The elite who feel that the almajiris do not deserve good education because they are children of the poor are the killers of Deborah of Sokoto. 

Northern leaders who knew by their education and knowledge that what was done to Deborah was wrong and indefensible before Allah and kept mute are her real killers because, by their silence, the illiterate and ignorant will think they are right and could repeat such mob action in future.

It’s this conspiracy of the elite that gave birth to the dreaded terror group Boko Haram in the North-East. When BH started subtly in 2009, the Muslim elite kept mum, thinking the target would be Christians and churches. Today, Muslims and Christians are victims and the region has remained thoroughly devastated. Most of the elite who played politics with BH when it started have either died or have lost loved ones and property in the crisis.

The avoidable death of young Deborah of Sokoto came in default of even what the Quran prescribed for the alleged blasphemy because there is no such permission or allowance for anyone to take human lives because they insulted the Prophet or anyone for that matter. The Quran explicitly prohibits bloodshed for personal gains. 

History even has it that the great Prophet never killed anyone, (including his uncle and the wife who openly mocked him and ordered their servants to throw filth on his person in public), or anyone else for that matter. Neither did he order any killing of another person because they insulted him. Records abound of what Prophet Mohammad suffered in the hands of Abu Jehl, Abu Sufyan, and his wife Hind who both later embraced Islam and had their children rule some Islamic nations. The Prophet even prescribed how to handle insults which are to respond with patience, beautiful preaching, and graceful avoidance. But here in Nigeria people are taking lives for insults, who taught them this, and from where are they deriving it if not for political motives. Like Sheikh Ahmad Gumi said in the opening quote of this discourse, why are we killing for the prophet who did not kill?

Therefore, the Muslim elite who think that they can look away while their religion is being used selfishly to perpetrate evil should get acquainted with the story of the tiger rider who enjoyed as the carnivore consumed its prey. When the tiger finished with the prey, it would turn to the rider for meals. As Christians ran away from Borno and Yobe states, the terrorists turned on Muslims.

All those political and corporate leaders in the north who mobilise the youths of the region in the name of religion, use them for political purposes but do nothing to develop them, should know that a day of reckoning must come. The northern elite who are running away from their villages to Abuja and other safer cities because of the menace of banditry should know that today could have been averted if they had made education a priority.

What is the difference between a Muslim in the North and those in the South-West and Edo States? Why can’t their youths be used for negative purposes, the magic is education. They pray the same prayer, and use the same holy book, but educate their people and remove religion from their politics. Until this is done in the north, massive education for the populace, and divorcing religion from politics, another embarrassing killing will still occur. We need to know that this needless blood-shedding has huge repercussions here and hereafter. 

God, help us. 

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