It was with deep distress that I received the news of thegruesome killing of Deborah Samuel in Shehu Shagari College of Education, in Sokoto State. No Nigerian, and indeed, no human being, should be subjected to such inhumanity by fellow humans. As a nation of diverse peoples and cultures, there are available institutional mechanisms for resolving sensitive conflicts and, no matter the provocation, no person under our laws has the right to take laws into their own hands. As one who was a devout Muslim and who read the Koran from cover to cover, what was done to Deborah Samuel is nowhere justified in the religion of peace that was handed down to me by my grandfather who was the first Chief Imam of Iporo Sodeke Mosque in Abeokuta. My deep condolences go to the family of Deborah Samuel and I pray that we all find in God the comfort and fortitude to bear this great loss.
When I heard of the unrest that broke out in Sokoto after the arrest of some persons involved in the act, I immediately placed a call to Bishop Matthew Kukah to guarantee that he was safeand he assured me that, contrary to the news making the roundsin some quarters, his residence and the cathedral were not set ablaze. He further told me that the Governor of Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, swiftly intervened and dispatchedsecurity men to his residence and cathedral to prevent any mob attack. This is commendable and I trust that the institutions of state will be fully deployed to restore law and order, to ensure that justice is done and to address the underlying issues that this sad incident has once again brought to the fore.
I also appeal to the good people of Sokoto State to remember the tolerance and hospitality that they have always been known for. As a child, I lived in Sokoto State. When my father travelled up north in the 1950’s from Abeokuta in search of a market for his kola-nut produce, he was warmly received by the people of Sokoto State. So hospitable were the people that my fathersettled in Sokoto for a period and invested in cotton farms in Shagari Village. Though he was Yoruba, my father was given the nickname “Sanni Arewa” by the very friendly people of Sokoto. Such unity and tolerance should remain our true identityas a people.
The horrifyingly wicked killing of Deborah Samuel is a wake up call for us as a nation to once again reflect on our common humanity and reject every form of savagery. We must all, at this time, set aside our differences, be they religious, ethnic or political differences, and come together to say “Never again should this happen to any Nigerian.”