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CAN cautions government over blasphemy killings

By Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos)
23 May 2022   |   2:29 am
Some churches in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, held a protest against the gruesome May 12, 2022 murder of Deborah Samuel over alleged blasphemy.

Williams Okoye

• Churches hold peaceful protests in Abuja, Oyo, Osun, others
• Muslim group demands justice for victim

Some churches in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), yesterday, held a protest against the gruesome May 12, 2022 murder of Deborah Samuel over alleged blasphemy.

At the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Central Parish, Wuse II, Abuja, members who gathered within the premises, carried placards with inscriptions such as: Stop the killing! God is watching! No killings in the name of God!

The worshippers, who sealed their lips with masking tape, declined to speak to the press. At the All Christians Fellowship Mission, Maitama, worshippers also displayed placards such as: We demand justice for Deborah! Enough is enough! Christian lives matter!

The General Overseer and former Chaplin of Aso Villa Chapel, Rev. Williams Okoye, demanded justice, adding: “If we continue to treat this thing with kid gloves, it will multiply,”

In Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, members of RCCG, Liberation Cathedral, also condemned the jungle justice meted on Deborah.
Gathered at the church premises, located around Adejumo Street, they called on government and concerned authorities to avert recurrence of the incident.

Felix Afe Johnson, Pastor-in-charge of Province 10 of the church, said they staged the protest to let the whole world know they did not support the murder.

The Oyo State chapter of CAN also protested the killing when faithful gathered at the secretariat. The state’s chairman, Apostle Joshua Akinyemi, who spoke with journalists, said: “You cannot beat a child and expect him not to cry. We don’t want them to beat us again, so that we will not cry again. If anyone has done something wrong, the due process of the law must be followed.”

THIS was as Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) urged the Federal Government to immediately halt the trend by fanatics who hide under the excuse of alleged blasphemy to unleash violence on citizens.

This was contained in a statement by CAN Vice Chairman (North), Rev. Joseph John Hayab, at the weekend. CAN said: “Allegations of blasphemy have now become the new excuse by fundamentalists in northern Nigeria to kill the remnant that bandits and terrorists have not yet killed.

“The challenge now is for government authorities and security agencies to act fast to address this abuse of our Constitution before it leads to a more serious conflict that cannot be handled.

“Nigerian Christians, most especially those of northern extraction, have for ages exhibited tolerance, despite many provocations and lack of reciprocation of our love and friendship. But these new tactics of killing our people for any and every accusation of blasphemy are unacceptable to CAN and all Christian faithful. We will not allow this brutal way of murder and inhumane treatment of our followers to continue.”

CAN added: “Government and security agencies should come out to enforce the law on every murderer hiding under religion. We will also appeal to Christian leaders and parents to guide their children to resist any ungodly provocation that will make them says things that blood-thirsty fundamentalist can easily use to kill them.”

MEANWHILE, Muslims United for Peace and Justice, yesterday, called for swift justice against the killers of Deborah. The group comprises leaders of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof. Lakin Akinrole; Al-Usrah Incorporated, Port Harcourt, Prof. Abdulrazaq Kilani; Islamic Forum, Alhaji Ariyo Olushekun; Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness, Babalola Abdur-Rasheed and Muslim Public Affairs Centre, Kamor Disu, among others.

It maintained that the murder of Deborah could be utilised as a turning point in Muslim-Christian relations, and herald a new era of peaceful and respectful co-existence.

It maintained that every act of insult and provocation along religious and ethnic fault lines must be condemned, adding that any insult, abuse, denigration or mischievous attack against any and all prophets of God should not be encouraged.

The group said: “The alleged crime of blasphemy and the graphic murder of the young lady are not without precedence. We, therefore, come together today, as leaders of Muslim organisations, to amplify the voice of condemnation by other Muslim leaders, most notably the Sultan, Muhammadu Abubakar, against the dastardly murder of Deborah Samuel. We call for swift and transparent justice against her killers.”