The Martyrdom of Deborah Samuel

17 05 2022
Deborah Samuel

Many Nigerians are understandably shocked by the death last week of Deborah Samuel, a beautiful 25-year-old female student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto., who was mobbed by her classmates for alleged blasphemy against Islam. However, instead of mourning, Christians should rejoice because Deborah has given her life for her faith, the surest proof that she possesses the truth, and that her love for God is mightier than the power of darkness and terror, for greater love than this no man has that he lays down his life for his friends(John 5:13). Furthermore, from ancient times to the present, it is the blood of Christians that waters the seed of the faith ( LaBanca, 2018). This is our faith and the law that our founder, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross for us, established, and Deborah conquered death by dying.

According to reports, the trouble started in a class WhatsApp group when Deborah was asked how she passed an exam, and she replied that it was because of Jesus. Her response irritated some male Muslim students, who mocked her Christian faith and advised her to remove that statement. In a knee-jerk reaction to the attack on her freedom, she refused and went on to remind them that the class WhatsApp group was created to discuss class assignments and tests, not all the “religious nonsense” they had been posting here.

The Muslim students, enraged by her dismissal of the Islamic articles they had been posting, demanded that she apologize for insulting Islam and, specifically, the Prophet Mohammed (AWS) by calling the Islamic articles “nonsense.” Deborah refused, claiming she had said nothing wrong and had insulted no one. When the Muslim student insisted, they threatened to deal with her if she didn’t. Deborah responded to their threats by leaving a voice message that said, “Holy Ghost fire, nothing will happen to me,” and reiterated that the WhatsApp group was created for class assignments, tests, and academic pursuits, not for religious purposes. However, she had unknowingly signed her death warrant as the Muslim student went outside the school grounds to hire some Islamic executioners and led the men into the school grounds looking for her. Pandemonium erupted, and her classmates fled to the school security room to hide her, but the men arrived armed and ready to deal with anyone who stood in their way, and they overpowered the guards and dragged Deborah out. “What do you hope to accomplish with this?”  She asked the killers, and those were her last words, according to her classmates, as the men and several Muslim students beat, stoned, and clobbered her to death, and the video of them setting her corpse on fire has long gone viral on the internet, shocking not only millions of Nigerians but people all over the world.

The acts have been condemned by Muslims and Christians alike, and no one can think of a justification for such behavior. Who appointed those Muslim classmates to the positions of judge, jury, and executioner? According to Nigeria’s current Chief Justice, Justice Tanko Ibrahim Mohammed, “Islam is not a primitive religion in which followers can take the law into their own hands and commit jungle justice.” Rather, there is a judicial system in Islam that hears and decides cases, including criminal trials, and anyone accused of committing an offense against the religion or a fellow citizen should be brought before a court (either a Sharia or a secular/common law court) for adjudication” (Shuaib, 2022).

Furthermore, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, a respected and learned Islamic cleric, offers a powerful refutation of those who believe that Islamic tenets call for bloodshed when he says that even the Prophet Movement (Peace be upon him) was insulted while he was alive and he did not kill anyone (Alamu, 2022). According to Bello Shagari, a Muslim business consultant, the mob killing of Deborah is un-Islamic and repugnant and would end up giving Islam a bad name. This was posted on his Twitter feed:

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar, condemned the killing in its entirety on Thursday in a message from the Sultanate Council, urging Sokoto state authorities to bring the killers to justice. The message is displayed below.

( Courtesy of Sahara reporters, 2022)  

On Friday, President Buhari reacted to the incident, calling the killing illegal. He stated that, while Muslims all over the world demand that the Prophet be respected, no one in this country has the authority to break the law. The President offered his condolences to the deceased’s family and demanded an impartial investigation into the incident (Ailemen, 2022). According to critics, the President’s tardy response came only after the British High Commissioner demanded justice and the arrest of Deborah’s murderers. However, the point has been made. Surprisingly, some critics argue that Deborah had crossed an Islamic red line and thus deserved what she got. Shehu Shagari, on the other hand, condemned such clerics and urged them to wake up and educate the public about the truth(Orupe, 2022).

Furthermore, Shiekh Gumi contends that mob actions tarnish Islam’s white sultan’s reputation as the religion of peace, and he urges those who stain their hands with blood by engaging in extrajudicial killings to repent because they were perverting the name of Islam by using it to justify their bloody deeds. Furthermore, he reminded everyone that Nigeria is a secular state and that when Muslims and non-Muslims coexist through mutual agreements, they must be respected, and anyone who harms them is breaking Islamic law and will be unable to smell the fragrance of paradise for 40 years, according to the Quran.(Alamu, 2022). In addition, he argues that if Muslims want all men, particularly non-religious people in this country, to convert to Islam, then they must shun mob action and violence which will only alienate people from Islam by portraying Muslims as killers. Furthermore, the cleric claims that such mob actions contribute to an increase in insults and not less (Odunsi, 2022).

Adewale Martin, the Archbishop of Lagos, condemned the killing as barbaric, diabolic, and satanic, and urged authorities to find and punish the perpetrators (Eyoboka, 2022) while urging Christians to remain calm. Similarly, the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the murder and petitioned the Inspector General of Police to leave no stone unturned until the killers are apprehended. The Christian Journalist Association of Nigeria, as well as Catholic communicators and Christian groups from across the country, have also condemned the killing (Jannamike, 2022).

Regardless, Deborah may have erred and should have apologized for disrespecting the Islamic faith, but none of her actions justified the brutality of the death meted out to her, and what is clear is that the people who carried out this dastardly act acted wantonly and do not have the support of Islamic scholars or law enforcement, as Sokoto police have arrested some of them while the rest remain at large. The subsequent mayhem that ensued following their arrest is further evidence that these are the works of thugs who should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

However, Christians must understand that it is not uncommon for them to perish at the hands of those who despise them. Those Muslim students despised her for being a Christian and wished to teach her a lesson to show her that her Christianity cannot protect her against their power. However, they are mistaken because a Christian lives through death. We Christians are not only anti-violence; we are a religion of love, and our founder, Jesus Christ, teaches us to love our enemies and do good to them.

Instead of mourning, which is understandable, Christians rejoice when they give their lives for their faith because that is the surest proof that we love God, for greater love than this no man has that he lays down his life for his friends, and additionally, from ancient times to the present, it is the blood of Christians that waters the seed of the faith, and Christianity has always grown deep roots and wider spread as long as it is persecuted. This is our faith and the law established for us by our founder, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross.

Deborah’s assassins have only her body and can do nothing else because she is now immortal and with God, and everything, as Deborah’s parents stated, is in God’s hands. And, while pleading with the authorities to do everything in their power to bring justice and bring the perpetrator to justice, let it be known to them that Deborah has conquered death and defeated them precisely by dying at their hands, just as Christ her savior conquered death and the devil by dying on the cross, and similarly, Deborah will rise again seated with Christ.

by Chinwuba Iyizoba

Editor, Authorchioce.

References

 Ailemen, A.(2022) Buhari condemns killing of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto. Businessday.ng Retrieved from https://businessday.ng/news/article/buhari-condemns-killing-of-deborah-samuel-in-sokoto/

Alamu, T.(2022).Blasphemy: Deborah Parents Breaks Silence Over Death Of Their Daughter And More .Ngnews247. Retrieved from https://www.ngnews247.com/blasphemy-deborah-parents-breaks-silence-over-death-of-their-daughter-and-more/

Eyoboka, S. (2022). Archbishop Martins wants perpetrators punished. Vanguardngr. Retrieved from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/05/murder-of-deborah-yakubu-archbishop-martins-wants-perpetrators-punished/

Eyoboka, S. (2022, May 13). Catholic Communicators Condemn the Killing of Deborah.  Vanguardngr. Retrieved from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/05/catholic-communicators-condemn-killing-of-deborah-yakubu/

 Jannamike, L. (2022). Sokoto blasphemy: CAN’s youth wing petitions IGP over Deborah Yakubu’s murder.Vanguardngr. Retrieved from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2022/05/sokoto-blasphemy-cans-youth-wing-petitions-igp-over-deborah-yakubus-murder/

LaBanca, N. (2018). Blood of the Martyrs Is Still Seed for the Church. Ascensionpress. Retrieved from https://media.ascensionpress.com/2018/09/17/blood-of-the-martyrs-is-still-seed-for-the-church/

Odunsi, W. (2022). Deborah Samuel: Prophet Muhammad never killed despite insults – Sheikh Gumi condemns murder.  dailypost.ng. Retrieved from https://dailypost.ng/2022/05/15/deborah-samuel-prophet-muhammad-never-killed-despite-insults-sheikh-gumi-condemns-murder/

Orupe, T. (2022, May 13).Deborah crossed Islamic red line; her killers were right- Imam of National Mosque. Idomavoice. Retrieved from  https://www.idomavoice.com/2022/05/deborah-crossed-islamic-red-line-her-killers-were-right-imam-of-national-mosque.html

Sahara reporter (2022). Sultan Of Sokoto Condemns Killing Of Female College Student For Alleged Blasphemy. Retrieved from https://www.ngnews247.com/blasphemy-deborah-parents-breaks-silence-over-death-of-their-daughter-and-more/

Shuaib, Y. (2022).Blasphemy: Positions of Justice System and the Holy Quran. Theworldnews.net. Retrieved from https://theworldnews.net/mw-news/blasphemy-positions-of-justice-system-and-the-holy-quran-by-yushau-shuaib


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