Blasphemy Murder: Outrage Mounts as Buhari, IG Pledge Speedy Justice

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• Police homicide section investigates killing, HURIWA kicks

Tobi Soniyi, Senator Iroegbu, Dele Ogbodo in Abuja, and Amby Uneze in Owerri

As Nigerians react in outrage concerning the gruesome extra-judicial murder of Mrs. Bridget Agbaheme, an Igbo market woman in Kano, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase have appealed for calm and pledged to ensure speedy justice in the matter.

A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said Buhari described the gruesome incident that led to the killing of Agbaheme as sad and regrettable, and consoled with the husband of the deceased, Pastor Mike Agbaheme, the family and relations, praying that God would give them the fortitude to bear the loss.

He also commended the law enforcement agents for apprehending the prime suspect behind the killing, as well as the Kano State government, which summoned a meeting of Christian and Islamic leaders, widower of the deceased, and security agencies, as soon as the sad event occurred.

Adesina said Buhari promised that justice would be done in the matter, and urged the people not to take the law into their hands. He equally charged those who might want to use the development to fan the embers of religious or ethnic hatred to remember that two wrongs never make a right, and that when law and order broke down, the victims never distinguished on the basis of religion or ethnicity.

“The incident at Kofar Wambai market, Kano city, is utterly condemnable, and the state government has been quite proactive. Let us ensure that we keep the peace, as justice will be done. Let us learn to respect each other’s faith, so that we can know each other and live together in peace,” the President said.

The Inspector-General of Police has also called for calm while reassuring the family of the deceased and the public that justice shall be done in the case.

The IG who condemned the act in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, Force Headquarters, ACP, Olabisi Kolawole, which was made available to the media in Abuja, said the Kano State Police Command has succeeded in arresting two key suspects in connection with the unfortunate incident. Those arrested include Dauda Ahmed and Subeiru Abubakar.

In order to ensure a professional investigation, the IG, has directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in- charge of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) to deploy the Homicide Section of the Department to immediately take over the investigation of the case and ensure a meticulous investigation and speedy prosecution of the arrested suspects.

Arase also directed the Commissioner of Police of Kano State to sustain the community engagement actions which he is currently initiating with all strategic security stakeholders and community leaders in the State with a view to dousing the tension being generated by the condemnable incident.
Arase also called on Kano State residents and indeed, all citizens to imbibe the culture of tolerance, rule of law and peaceful co-existence and to trust and cooperate with the police as we strive to ensure justice in this case.

“The Inspector General of Police and the entire Nigeria Police family, therefore, condoled the family, friends and colleagues of the late victim and stressed that the Force shall uphold its mandate touching on criminal justice delivery in the most firm and speedy fashion in this instance and in other cases of this nature,” he said.

The IG advised members of the public to go about their normal activities and resist any temptation to capitalise on the incident to threaten national security as any such attempt would be firmly dealt with.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Writes Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the recent killings in Niger and Kano States of two Nigerians of Igbo extraction by Islamic extremists over alleged blasphemy of their religion, describing it as provocative and primitive.

HURIWA, in a statement jointly issued yesterday in Abuja by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, said it would forward a detailed petition to the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, “to urge the global body to specifically pass a Resolution declaring the Igbo population in Nigeria as endangered species that deserves urgent worldwide protection from the coordinated plot to bring about their extinction.”

The pro-democracy Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) said “the failure of the relevant security hierarchies in those states to promptly prevent such barbaric criminal acts and also failure to arrest, prosecute the Islamic extremists who carried out these medieval extra-legal executions of fellow citizens over unsubstantiated allegation of religious blasphemy is an invitation to anarchy and amounts to official impunity.”

The group has also carpeted the Police Commissioners and Directors of Department of State Services (DSS) for allegedly standing by and letting Nigerian citizens to be killed only because they are from the South-east.

It condemned the administration of law enforcement under the current dispensation and expressed fears that heads of security agencies are behaving as if they have orders from above to decimate Igbo citizens of South-east Nigeria.

The group is also seeking the strongest penalties for the relevant security heads in Niger and Kano who stood by and allowed the mobs to take the law into their hands by committing murders openly and in the case of Kano State where the killers paraded the streets of Kano in broad daylight with the decapitated head of the Igbo woman accused of the so-called blasphemy offence.

Also, the governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha has received with rude shock the unfortunate report that Agbaheme was beheaded in Kano State over an unconfirmed religious argument and described the killing as the height of recklessness on the part of the perpetrators.

When the sad news was broken to him, the governor took steps to confirm the report and discovered that the woman in question was truly from Mbaitoli Local Government of the State.

In an effort to unravel the perpetrators of the heinous crime, the governor has immediately called on all relevant security agencies in Kano State to leave no stone unturned in carrying out thorough investigation into the killing of the woman, and also stop at nothing to bringing those who carried out the murder to book and pay dearly for their wicked act.

The governor has also appealed to Imo indigenes in Kano State to remain calm to enable law enforcement agents do their job by carrying out the needed investigation into the matter and also take the necessary actions.

Meanwhile, the Senator Representing Owerri Zone in the Senate, Sen. Samdaddy Anyanwu has urged relevant security agencies to immediately commence investigation into the Kano killing in order to bring the perpetrators to book.

Senator Anyanwu, who is the Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Petitions, expressed dissatisfaction at the inaction of security agencies who allegedly watched as the fanatics danced around the city with the head of the slain woman.

He expressed regret at the level of religious intolerance in the northern part of the country, and described the gruesome murder of Agbaheme as a case too many while insisting that the perpetrators must not go unpunished in order not to arouse feelings of reprisals in such a religiously volatile country as Nigeria.