Prof Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate, has requested that Prof Ibrahim Maqari, the Deputy Chief Imam of Abuja's National Mosque, be removed from office for encouraging the murder of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a Christian student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, by her classmates.
Soyinka said on Saturday that Maqari should be tried "under any current statutes that approximate hate language, encouragement to murder, and abuse of office."
About a week ago, Maqari posted on Twitter, “It should be known to everyone that we Muslims have some redlines beyond which MUST NOT be crossed." The dignity of the Prophet (PBUH) is at the forefront of the redlines.
“If our grievances are not properly addressed, then we should not be criticised for addressing them ourselves.”
The Nobel laureate noted that while the Sultanate of Sokoto had condemned the act, Maqari “implicitly directed his followers to take the law into their own hands in the name of religion, and in a nation beset on all sides by wars of ultra-nationalism.”
Soyinka stated these in his address, titled, “In Time of Crisis: Civilian and Soldier,” which was delivered in Abuja at the launching of a memorial publication for the late Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff who died in 2021 in a plane crash.
Soyinka said, “No one will deny that we all owe a duty to the living, but some are inclined to the stance that such a duty terminates with the living." Well, in my school of reflection and the testimony of history, that duty extends to death and beyond. That claim is grounded not in mere sentiment, not in attachment to morbidity or unassuaged grief, but in banal self-interest. For instance, if, having failed to save Akaluka, having failed to rescue Oluwatosin, and setting aside hundreds, possibly thousands of others, we had openly, justly, and rigorously ensured justice in the crime that terminated their existence, we would not now be apologising to the late victim of such religion-inspired barbarity – Ms. Deborah Samuel.
Of course, we are not all to be found within the same terrain of sensibilities – absolutely no! And that has been demonstrated most vividly by the very nature of the responses that have been exacted after the nation’s recent exercise in human sacrifice. The nation’s president, traditional rulers—among them the Sultan of Sokoto, who also serves as the Amir of Nigerian Muslims—women's organizations, workers’ unions, and professionals from all walks of life, young and old, have raised their voices in accents of apology and condemnation. However, a glorified cleric, no less than the Grand Vizier of the iconic Mosque of the nation’s capital, Abuja, has inserted a dissenting voice.
“The young woman, Deborah," he declared, deserved her death. This mullah, allegedly a man of learning since his name is professorially captioned, says that there is a line, a red line that none of us must cross, no matter who we are, what we think, profess or value. Like the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran, this mere mortal has declared himself a Supreme Being with the power of life and death over all the denizens of the world. His call is unambiguous. Professor Ibrahim Maqari has placed his myrmidons of faith on high alert, primed to emulate the example of these death-dealing mutants of fanatic indoctrination.
“Professor Imam Ibrahim Maqari, however, insists, with a handful of others, including a vocal serving policeman quite recently, that there is no remorse attached to the torture and lynching of a young student on this earth we all share." To anyone who cares to listen, Maqari has implicitly directed his followers to take the law into their own hands in the name of religion, in a nation beset on all sides by wars of ultra-nationalism and religious fanaticism. That is the message of a supposedly holy man to young people, to us, and to a nation embroiled in the madness of multiple insurgencies.
“If Professor Grand Imam Maqari can draw a line in blood, the rest of the community of equal rights must proceed to draw their own, but they will do so in a less primitive, bloodthirsty mode, in full respect of human dignity."
That apostate of the creed of humanity, Professor Maqari, must be removed from office. It is no longer sufficient for all to declaim that Islam is this and that, that Sharia is thus and thus, that Prophet Mohammed set this or that example and made this or that humanistic pronouncement. We have gone beyond theocratic rhetoric that merely pays lip service to civilized norms. Let all pietistic denunciations be backed by affirmative action.
“The Grand Seer of Abuja mosque should be hounded from office." He should be tried under any existing laws that approximate hate rhetoric, incitement to murder, and abuse of office. ”