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The murder of a 200-level student of Home Economics the name Deborah Emmanuel of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, by Islamic fundamentalists has sparked global outrage. The video where she was beaten with sticks and other sharp objects and finally set ablaze by her classmates and others has shocked the world.
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According to reports, Ms. Deborah, a Christian minority, had allegedly blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a class WhatsApp group through a voice note. Before this, she had severally complained that the WhatsApp group was invaded with lots of religious posts, something she found disturbing, and had stated that the purpose of the group was for posting academic information such as past question papers for tests and examinations. In a response to this incessant flooding of religious posts on the group, she released a voice note condemning their actions, where she allegedly blasphemed the prophet. However, reports had it that she was asked to retract her statement which she did not. She was, therefore, threatened with death by Muslim classmates. It was at this point her friends smuggled her out of the classroom to the college’s police station. Unfortunately, the mob overpowered the station, took out Ms. Deborah from their grip, and lynched her to death. The videos of her lynching circulated the internet and sent shockwaves to many viewers across Nigeria and the rest of the world. Religious leaders, activists, and well-meaning Nigerians have called for the prosecution of her murderers. 
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This unfortunate event has further revealed so much about Nigeria. Social media users, especially from southern Nigeria have been more vocal about prosecuting the killers of Ms. Deborah. Many used the opportunity to share personal stories of how they were victims of sharia law in the north. But what is most tragic about this event is the open support or unholy silence of numerous Muslim Nigerians from the north, especially those considered Islamic thinkers and intellectuals. This has raised so many eyebrows about the configurations of Nigeria. The question of dual Constitutional structure has come to the front burner of the discussion. To start with, Nigeria is somewhat described as a secular state, with nearly 50-50 percent of both Christians and Muslims as well as a minority of traditional worshippers and non-conformists. Presently, Nigeria operates dual constitutional structures – the sharia law and customary law. However, this has placed so much question on common sense that Nigeria is a secular state. It is more like two different nations with each its constitution, yet in one nation. Countless cases exist where non-Muslims have been tried by the Sharia, especially with issues of religious blasphemy. The death of Deborah among countless others has called for rethinking the constitutionality of the nation.
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Furthermore, the murder of Deborah has split the north and south apart. This is not the first carnage that questioned Nigeria’s false sense of unity. While the south has expressed bitterness and disgusts over the incident, Muslims, especially from the north have continued to show support for the killers, stating that Islam has so many red lines, with the blasphemy of the prophet being the most pronounced. Moreover, leading Islamic clerics have lauded the killers in tweets and sermons and have warned that people ought to respect the religion of others. These supports shattered the already weak clasps that held the nation together.  Another surprising incident coming out of this carnage was the retraction of the condemnation of Deborah’s murder by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a presidential hopeful of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Atiku had tweeted in condemnation of the killing, however, several Muslim tweeters threatened him with a loss of votes, which forced the serial presidential aspirant to delete his tweet. His action sparked outrage among netizens. Though, President Buhari condemned the killing as well as the Sultan of Sokoto and several leading Muslim clerics down south. The murder of Deborah by Islamic fundamentalists has further shown us the implication of poverty and illiteracy, tools with which the elites have used to perpetually keep the poor poorer. And not just that, the elites have used religion to produce weapons of mass destruction to achieve political goals. Studies have shown that Boko Haram, a tool in the hands of politicians, has recruited its members from the illiterate, and brainwashed the poor into its rank and file. The bitter truth is this: northern Nigeria will continually be a hotbed of violence as long as the people fail to move with the times rather than remain in a medieval reality, where inhumane conservatism is darker.  Featured Image Source: The Cable
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This article was first published on 17th May 2022 and updated on May 19th, 2022 at 10:16 am


Nnaemeka is an academic scholar with a degree in History and International Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He is also a creative writer, content creator, storyteller, and social analyst.

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