The Gideon & Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation deplores and condemns the horrendous murder of Ms Deborah Emmanuel, a 200 Level student of Home Economics at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto yesterday. The killers, some of who were her fellow students, took it upon themselves to stone and then burn her alive, for alleged blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad.
We condemn this criminal act of injustice done to Deborah by its perpetuators and any who aided and assisted in planning this latest affront to humanity in Nigeria, those who stood by and failed to help Deborah, those who encouraged the killers, and anyone who may have incited them.
Deborah had a right to life; she had a right to live that life with dignity and to fulfil her human potential. Instead, this young woman’s life has been cut short, and in monstrous circumstances. All those dreams and hopes for the future, destroyed in a few moments of profound evil. How is it that our young people behaved in this way? They clearly think they can do what they want and will get away with it.
We wish to extend our profound condolences and sympathy to her family and friends who are mourning the loss and the horrific circumstances of her murder. We are all pained. We see this wicked act as having been facilitated by successive governments failing to respond effectively to religious extremism and violence. This impunity has gone on for too long. This is one too many and collective action is required, not rhetoric. Nigeria, under many regional and international treaties, is legally bound to protect its population from violence, abduction, abuse and other ill-treatment. There is an urgent need to adopt effective measures for the prevention, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of such abuses.
The tragedy of Deborah, like the tragedy of Leah Sharibu (still in captivity) and countless others, killed or abused because of their religion, confirms how successive Nigerian governments have reneged on their international obligations. It is time to move beyond rhetoric to action. It is as simple as that.
Nigerian leaders need to act to redeem this country. This dastardly act must be thoroughly investigated, prosecuted and punished. All those involved, from the killers to their accomplices to any who may have incited them, must be held to account. We and many others here and abroad will be closely scrutinising the actions of the Sokoto State and its criminal justice system. In addition, we anticipate that the Federal Government will monitor the process to ensure compliance with the rule of law on this matter.
The Nigerian government also needs to face up to its responsibilities of protecting its citizens from the violence that is engulfing this once beautiful and peaceful nation now turning ugly in the name of religion! How can we remain passive over such basic matters of life as a nation?
The murder of Deborah Emmanuel is a defining moment in our collective history. This is not the Nigeria that we love and cherish. The Para-Mallam Peace Foundation calls for calm and restraint. While demanding fundamental changes and holding the government and the perpetrators to account, Nigerians must pursue the paths of peace and justice.
We commend those Islamic scholars and leaders especially the Sultan of Sokoto, whose voice is respected within the Muslim community in Nigeria, who have already spoken up against this perverse action as being plain and simple criminality, and who have appealed for calm. We welcome those Muslim voices who are speaking up against this evil. We must all act in a way that keeps this situation from spiralling out of control. JUNGLE JUSTICE IN THE NAME OF RELIGION MUST STOP!!!
Gideon Para-Mallam (Revd Dr.)
May 13th, 2022