How Blasphemy Killings Claimed Over 300 Nigerians Since 1999 As Police Fail To Prosecute Suspects | #NwokeukwuMascot


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More than 300 Nigerians have been killed in relation to blasphemy allegations between 1999 and 2024, available statistics have shown.

Newmes had reported that many perpetrators have not faced prosecution, prompting outrage and calls for justice from human rights activists and religious leaders across the globe.

Blasphemy is criminalised in many countries. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, 79 countries and territories out of the 198 studied around the world (40%) had laws or policies in 2019 banning blasphemy

 In at least seven countries—Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia — blasphemy can result in a death sentence.

Blasphemy is considered a crime under Islamic Sharia law in Nigeria's 12 predominantly Muslim northern states. Section 204 of the Nigerian criminal code stipulates a two-year imprisonment for “public insult on. religion.” 

In 2002, over 200 deaths resulted from extensive riots following a remark by Isioma Daniel, a journalist with This Day newspaper. She humorously suggested that Prophet Muhammad might have chosen a wife from contestants in that year’s Miss World competition set to take place in Abuja. 

The newspaper's office in Kaduna was set ablaze by arsonists.

 However, the government of Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria issued a fatwa urging "all Muslims, wherever they may be, to consider it a religious obligation to kill the writer.

In 2006, Florence Chukwu, a school teacher in Bauchi, was murdered, and accused of blasphemy for instructing a student to cease reading the Quran during an English language lesson. 

She was killed, along with 30 others, as a consequence of the incident.

In the worst recent rioting in 2004, hundreds of people were killed in Kano in waves of sectarian violence, ostensibly as retribution for similar attacks in Plateau state, central Nigeria.

In March 2007, Christiana Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin, a schoolteacher from Gandu in Gombe State, northeastern Nigeria, was murdered on accusations of desecrating a Quran.

It was reported that a mob stoned, stripped, beat, and stabbed her to death, and later her body was burned beyond recognition. Although sixteen suspects were arrested, they were all later released without facing charges.

In March 2021, in Sade village, Darazo local government area of Bauchi state, a water vendor known as Talle Mai Ruwa was beaten to death and his body was burned to ashes following allegations of blasphemy against Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Despite the irate youths storming the community police station where the vendor was detained, no arrest was made. They seized him and set him ablaze in front of the police station.

Since 1999, 12 states in northern Nigeria have implemented Shariah penal codes, running alongside secular and customary courts. The enforcement of religious laws by these states poses significant challenges to upholding complete freedom of religion or belief. 

A 74-year-old Christian market trader, identified as Mrs Bridget Agbahime, was murdered on June 2, 2016, at Kofar Wambai market in Kano State, northern Nigeria, by Muslim youths who accused her of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.

Five suspects, namely Dauda Ahmed, Zubairu Abdullahi, Abdulmumeen Mustafa, Abdullahi Abubakar, and Musa Abdullahi, were apprehended and held in custody for the killing of Mrs. Agbahime. They were charged with offences “inciting disturbance, joint act, mischief and culpable homicide” under sections 114, 80, 327 and 221 of the Penal Code. 

However, on 3 November, the chief magistrate of Kano State, Muhammad Jibril, acting on a directive from the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Kano State, discharged the five suspects and dismissed the case against them.

 Despite the promise made by the former Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, that justice would be done in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the suspects were released some months later.

Muhammad Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, was arrested on April 28, 2020, at his residence in Kaduna State by the Kaduna State police over a Facebook post he made that purportedly insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

 Bala was denied access to legal representation for over five months following his arrest and was held without formal charges for more than a year

Meanwhile, on August 3, 2021, Bala faced 10 charges for causing public disturbance due to Facebook posts he published in April 2020.

 The Kano State High Court, on April 5, 2022, sentenced Bala to 24 years in prison after convicting him of 18 counts under Sections 210 and 114 of the Kano State Penal Code, respectively.

Around May 13, 2024, the Kano State Court of Appeal ruled Bala’s punishment was “excessive” and reduced his prison sentence to five years.

Bala has reportedly been denied adequate medical care while in prison.

A musician in Nigeria's northern state of Kano in August 2020 was sentenced to death by hanging for blaspheming in a series of private WhatsApp messages against the Prophet Muhammad.

According to a judgement by an upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state said Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, 22, was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March.

Protesters had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.

The same court in 2021 found a 16-year-old boy, Umar Farouk, guilty of blasphemy for reportedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad while arguing with a friend and sentenced him to 10 years in prison with manual labor.

In June 2015, in Kano, an Islamic court sentenced nine persons (eight men and one woman) to death for blasphemy. They were convicted of uttering the statement "Niasse was greater than Prophet Muhammad" during a religious gathering commemorating Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the founder of the Tijaniyyah order.

In  June 25, 2023, A butcher, Usman Buda, attached to Sokoto Abattoir, was killed for alleged blasphemy.

He was alleged of making blasphemous statements about the person of Prophet Muhammed and allegedly refused to repent when asked to do so by his colleagues.

Deborah Samuel, a Christian student at Shehu Shagari College in Sokoto, was stoned to death for allegedly posting “blasphemous” statements in a WhatsApp group being used by the students, and her Muslim colleague student posted an Islamic piece. She criticised the posting.”

Two suspects were said to be arrested in connection with the murder of the student but Nobody has been prosecuted for the murder of Deborah.

In June 2024, an irate mob killed a young man identified as Yunusa over allegations of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW), in Nasaru village, Ningi local government area of Bauchi State.

It was noted that punishments for alleged blasphemy are often administered through vigilante justice by Islamic extremists, who act without waiting for court decisions. 

However , in all of the people that were killed for allegedly blasphemy, none of the victims was given the opportunity to defend herself or herself before they were killed by mob. 

Since 1999, thousands of people have been mobbed to death for allegedly committing blasphemy, while 5 persons were reportedly  taken to court. Most of these incidents occurred in the northern states of the country, such as Kano, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Gombe, and Jigawa.

Despite assurances from the Nigerian police about arresting the culprits, no arrests were made at the scene. Moreover, there is no documented instance in Nigeria of anyone being prosecuted or imprisoned for murders linked to accusations of blasphemy in the country.


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