The Christian Association of Nigeria on Sunday said it would explore all avenues to get justice for Deborah Samuel, a 200 level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, who was lynched last week for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Muhammad.
In a chat with The PUNCH on Sunday, Rev Bayo Oladeji, the Spokesman for the CAN President, said the Christian body would consider writing petitions to the United Nations and other international organisations to bring them up to speed on the plight of Christians in Nigeria.
Oladeji stated this as Deborah’s mother, Aileri Emmanuel, in an interview with The PUNCH, said she would never send her remaining seven children to school because of the gruesome killing of her daughter.
On his part, Oladeji said the incident was evidence that Nigeria should not have been removed from the US list of countries that violate religious freedom.
The cleric noted that the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Karim Khan, visited the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over a week ago and failed to visit victims of religious violence despite a letter by CAN for him to do so.
He said had the warnings by CAN been taken seriously all this while, the killings of Christians in the North would have become a thing of the past.
Oladeji added, “The incident just happened, so we will be taking things a step at a time. Rest assured the peaceful protests will just be the beginning. We will take every available step to draw the attention of the world to what is happening in Nigeria.
“If it involves going to the ICC, we will do it. If it involves going to the United Nations, we will do it. We are not going to stop. This was what we said when the US removed Nigeria from the list of religious violators. CAN is the voice of the voiceless. Unfortunately, when we raise the alarm, people don’t listen until things like these happen.
“When a woman was killed in Kano, we cried out but nobody listened. When a preacher was killed in Kubwa, we cried out but no one listened. When you refuse to cry out, these killings will continue.”
My remaining seven children will never go to school again – Mother
Emmanuel Garba, Deborah’s father, in an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, said he paid N120,000 to transport the remains of his daughter from Sokoto State to Niger State.
Garba, who said he would not seek any legal redress, disclosed that the government had not contacted him despite the gruesome killing of her daughter.
He stated, “I have yet to get a call or message from anyone concerning the incident. Nobody called me; I decided to go on my own. I went to the state CID (Criminal Investigation Department) office and begged them to help me get the corpse so I could bury it because leaving it there might make it decompose. Then they took me to the mortuary, did some paperwork and released the remains to me.”
“I was the one who paid to transport the remains. I was charged N120,000 which I was forced to pay because that was the cheapest I got as the majority of people don’t like transporting corpses.”
Garba, a security guard with the Niger State Water and Sanitation, said his wife had fallen ill, adding that she had just finished receiving injections.
He also stated, “We are not seeking redress in any court over the killing of our daughter. We are firm believers in Christ who always leave everything in the hands of God. No vengeance, nothing. Everything is left to our creator.
“We don’t want anything (from the government) but it is just unfortunate that we used all our resources to send her to school and now she is dead. She was my eldest child and I have seven others left.”
Her mother, Alheri Emmanuel, who broke down in tears, said, “I have no demands; I don’t want anything but one thing I know is that my children will never go to school again.”
Shun inter-religious council’s activities, northern CAN tells Christian leaders
Also, the northern chapter of CAN on Sunday directed Christian leaders in the country to terminate their participation in the activities of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council, until their counterparts of Islamic faith show commitment to tame their followers on equal terms.
“We are urging all Christian leaders to terminate their participation in NIREC, until their counterparts of Islamic faith show commitment to tame their followers on equal terms,” the Public Relations Officer of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja), Jechonia Gilbert, gave the directive in a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday titled: ‘Deborah Samuel: No cover-up, assailants must face judgment’
Northern CAN asks Christian students to avoid Sokoto
The organisation also called on every Christian parent across the country especially in northern states to discourage sending their children to any school in Sokoto State.
CAN said the directive to parents would continue, pending when the federal and state governments would be ready and willing to secure the lives of its children both in Sokoto and other states that had been hostile to Christians and Christianity.
CAN warned the faith who kill to please their God to exercise restraint because “those who tried it in Egypt and their experiences should be enough warning.
“There is the Red Sea awaiting them, even those who are secretly encouraging them, must partake in the Red Sea experience”, the organisation said.
The statement further read, “While CAN does not and will not encourage casting aspersions on any religion or religious leader of any faith, CAN frowns on hiding under the gab of any religious extremism to perpetrate any form of criminality against her members, especially in northern Nigeria.
“God Almighty is not and can never be a weak God for mere mortals to fight and defend Him. On the contrary, it is He who keeps watch and defends us. CAN believes that life is sacred and must never be taken by another unless as directed by the state.”
The Christian association advised Governor Aminu Tambuwal and President Buhari not to resort to the pedestrian government rhetoric but to demonstrate political will and capacity to bring the perpetrators of this criminality to justice.