The Media Rights Agenda, MRA has called on the Federal Government and the Sokoto State Government to look into a recent case of incitement by a cleric, to murder a young man, Isma’il Isah, who was arrested in Sokoto over allegations of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Bello Yabo, while delivering a sermon in Hausa in a mosque in Sokoto reportedly ordered the murder of a young man, Isma’il Isah, whenever he is released from custody.
Isma’il reportedly made comments, which were considered blasphemous, on Facebook in frustration over his failure to secure an appointment with a local government in the state and was arrested as a result.
The media rights organization in a press statement signed by its Programme Manager, Ayode Longe, said the current situation where the Federal Government and many State Governments are turning a blind eye in the face of incessant calls by so-called religious leaders on their followers to kill other citizens who are alleged to have insulted any religion or religious figure or accused of blasphemy is unacceptable and unjustifiable as incitement to violence or murder is an offense under Nigerian laws.
Mr. Longe said, “nobody has the power or right to call for the killing of another person for any reason whatsoever or under any circumstance when the person has not been charged and tried before a court of competent jurisdiction, convicted and sentenced to death for an offense that carries the death penalty.
“Anybody found in this act is a criminal in the eyes of the Law and should be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.”
According to him, “although blasphemy is an offense in some parts of Nigeria, it is not within the authority of anybody to take another person’s life or incite others to do so without the due process of the Law as any person who is alleged to have committed an offense is entitled under the Nigerian Constitution and international human rights law to a fair trial before any punishment can be imposed on such a person.”
He said by condoning the barbaric conduct of those who seek to subvert and circumvent this sacred principle of justice, the government is complicit in portraying Nigeria before the world as a country where jungle justice is a culture and persons can be killed with impunity for alleged offenses without the due process of law and without being given an opportunity to defend themselves.
MRA thereafter called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), as the Chief Law Officer of the country, to intervene and ensure that no harm befalls Isma’il and that the rule of law prevails in the handling the matter as it is his duty to do so.
It also called on the Sokoto State government to ensure that no harm befalls Isma’il as a result of citizens taking the law into their own hands.