|On June 2, 2016, Mrs Bridget Agbahime, an indigene of Imo State was murdered in Kofar Wambai Market, Kano.|
The seventy-five- year–old Igbo woman, who was until her death, a trader at the popular plastic section of the market, died in the hands of religious fanatics. According to the perpetrators of the bloody act, the woman had to die for her alleged act of irreverence for Islam.
The victim, it was gathered, had asked a muslim who came in front of her shop to perform ablution (washing of feet before prayers) to move some yards away from his position which was directly facing her. Immediately, an argument ensued, leading to the young man’s assertion that the Igbo woman had insulted Allah by preventing his ablution and therefore must die. In an instant, fellow Muslims around the market descended on the woman with dangerous weapons. They clubbed and daggered the woman to death in the presence of her husband.
Her tragic killing sparked national outrage. But tension came down significantly when the suspects, Dauda Ahmed, Abdulmumeen Mustapha, Zubairu Abubakar, Abdullahi Abubakar and Musa Abdullahi were arrested and arraigned in court. But recently, and in a most bizarre manner, the suspects were discharged and acquitted by a Kano State Magistrate Court.
The Chief Magistrate, Muhammad Jubrin, discharged and terminated the case “in line with the directive of the Attorney-General of Kano State”.
It was also widely reported that counsel to the suspects, Abdulsalam Gambo, commended the Attorney-General for exonerating the suspects. Many people, both within and outside the country were shocked by the news of their acquittal.
For a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country like Nigeria, this verdict from Kano State is horrifying. With this judgement, the Kano State judiciary and supporters of the extremists have, inadvertently, emboldened religious fanatics and declared their state unsafe for people of other faiths. Sadly, scenarios like this are not in short supply in the North.
Jungle justice must have no place in any civilized country — including Nigeria. Nobody, no matter how low or high, has the right to take the life of another citizen. If truly our country is governed by the rule of law any attempt by any group or individual to arrogate divine powers of life and death to themselves must be condemned. What happened in Kano calls for worry and those in authority must step in to ensure justice is done. Every Nigerian has a right to freedom of speech and worship.
The Kano State government must not create the impression that it operates different laws for different persons, depending on their faith or ethnic group. Nigeria already has enough political and social issues at the moment and cannot afford to compound the problems.
If we all agree that protection of life and property is the primary responsibility of government, our government at all levels and others in position of authority must be fair to all irrespective of religion or tribe. Killings and miscarriage of justice like these do not inspire hope about the unity of the country. In addition, they diminish us all as human beings. Bridget Agbahime’s murder must not be swept under the carpet. It must be revisited if we hope to achieve lasting peace, security and the healing that our country desperately needs.