By Ben Osawe
Nigeria is a very religious nation where citizens are so ‘committed’ to God that they are eager and quick to kill in his name and for him, as we saw on Thursday 12th May 2022 with the gruesome, heartless mob killing of Deborah Emmanuel a student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.
Looking however through the veneer of zealotry is a most sickening form of hypocrisy the kind that is a stench in the nostril of God the most high who dwells in unapproachable light and in whom there is no unrighteousness, the very one they zealots claim to fight for.
It is unconscionable that citizens in a nation will be so zealous and yet their nation is broken ethically in all dimensions as citizens have lost their soul and humanity.
Farooq Kperogi captured the Nigerian paradox and religious hypocrisy of the zealots who murdered Deborah Emmanuel when he argued that ‘the cowardly, homicidal beasts who extra-judicially murdered this Christian woman(Deborah Emmanuel) are the same kinds of people who pray to God to save them from the bandits that have made their communities to perpetually drown in oceans of blood.
It beats the imagination that a people will be so mad with a statement they find offensive but cant demonstrate the same kind of zeal and revulsion in engaging bandits in their region who have not only turned their part of Nigeria into killing fields but also made women widows, children orphans, displaced millions and destroyed rural communities and rural economies.
When Sterling bank a few weeks ago at Easter made a huge joke of the resurrection of Christ, a fundamental doctrine upon which the Christian faith is based with all the insensitivity and insanity associated with that advert that compared the resurrection of Christ with Agege bread. Abubakar Suleiman, the Muslim Managing Director who personally signed the letter did not die, Sterling Bank branches were not burnt, and nobody’s hair fell to the ground. No from our faith perspective, they do not need to die! The Christian community accepted the apologies of Sterling Bank and Christian leaders went ahead to douse the tension.
Unfortunately, we are getting reactions from some category of Muslims who are applauding the killing of Deborah Emmanuel and even threatening further killings should any Christian make any statement adjudged by them to be blasphemous (More Christians will be killed for disrespecting Prophet Muhammad: Sokoto Govt Aide https://gazettengr.com/more-christians-will-be-killed-for-disrespecting-prophet-muhammad-sokoto-govt-aide/).
Tragically for us is the stand of several Christian who is currently justifying the killing based on an unverified twenty-five minutes voice note of what those who circulated the voice note claimed was the statement of Deborah Emmanuel that resulted in her death. The challenge for us is that the source of that voice note was not disclosed, the context of the discussions was not disclosed, the conversations before and after the twenty-five were not known, and yet several Christians draw conclusions from it.
What this is pointing to is that a great portion of the Nigerian Church seems to have been shaped and gradually accepted the approach of the College of Education Muslim Students to seeking redress. When people get to that level. I fear for their generations.
I read about a Muslim man in Egypt who was so annoyed with the Coptic Church in Egypt for accepting oppression as a way of life. In his account, he said the Coptic Church in Egypt got itself to a position in which it began to accept evil committed against it as the appropriate thing, a kind of self-loathing of its community. When this happens which we are witnessing within the Christian community it becomes near impossible for the Church to deliver an alternative nation.
As long as the Christian Community in Nigeria accepts that there are two standards of seeking redress( one through violence and the other through the law), we can’t as a people build a cohesive nation. Indeed, we can never say never again as these kinds of killings would continue.
It’s Tragic that those from the North who want to be President in 2023 have refused to take a stand on the side of justice for Deborah Emmanuel. Even those outside the North aspiring to be President are prevaricating being more evasive like Harry Houdini(the Hungarian-American illusionist).
Atiku Abubakar we have been told made a post on Facebook and Twitter condemning the killing ( “There cannot be a justification for such gruesome murder. Deborah Yakubu was murdered, and all those behind her death must be brought to justice. My condolences to her family and friends). https://fij.ng/article/atiku-deletes-tweet-condemning-deborahs-murder-because-of-his-presidential-ambition/.
However, Atiku Abubakar immediately deleted the post because some Northern folks said they would not support Atiku’s ambition in the forthcoming election. Following the comments, Abubakar deleted the tweet.( https://fij.ng/article/atiku-deletes-tweet-condemning-deborahs-murder-because-of-his-presidential-ambition/) and is being clever by half claiming that the post was by his social media team. Even if this was the case, what does it matter? So what this communicates is that Atiku’s presidential ambition is prioritized beyond human life.
Now these are the quality of men who want to lead a religious and culturally diverse nation. These are clear early warning signals, which should not be ignored. In 2014 in spite of clear signs in the horizon a large section of the Christian Community in Nigeria were at the forefront of championing the emergence of an aspirant who laid it out clearly the direction he would go which by all intents and purpose would result in the Church having its back against the wall.
May the Lord enable the Church rethink its theology as we engage the Nigerian nation in these times that justice will roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream(Amos 5:24).
May the Lord comfort Deborah Emmanuel’s family especially her mother at this tragic times.