The state beyond mob justice


Sober reflection

Unlike many politicians who prefer to keep their real age to themselves and state fake ones to make themselves look younger, I’m happy to report that I turned 57 yesterday. Thank God. These days, the older we get, the more birthdays become days of sober reflection. This year, however, my reflection was not on my personal life, but on our country, Nigeria. I can safely say that in my 57 years I have never seen Nigeria in this kind of turmoil. My parents returned from England after their studies and stayed there, during the time of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967. Today, many Nigerians are looking for every opportunity to leave Nigeria and settle in other places. other countries, because life here seems to have been radically reversed. the Hobbesian state – nasty, short and brutal, filled with economic hardship.

The constitutional crisis, the attack on the train to Kaduna and the abduction of passengers who, more than a month later, have not yet been released, the Chibok girls, Leah Sharibu, the recent murder of people in Plateau State, the countless killings and kidnappings (by bandits and ritual killers), evil judgments like the Benue State High Court in the Ochanya Ogbaje case, and now the murder by the mob of young Deborah Yakubu by her fellow students at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, for allegedly committing blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), are just a few (among countless) examples of the wicked, brutal and often short (as with Ochanya, 13, Deborah, 23) in which we find ourselves.

Reactions to last week’s editorial

After my editorial last week, I received several calls with different reactions about the murder of Deborah Yakubu. Many, including Muslims of Nordic descent, condemned his murder as gruesome and barbaric. This is a violation of his right to life guaranteed by Article 33(1) of the Constitution; intentional homicide punishable by death in violation of article 220 of the law on the Penal Code.

But, a few others told me that Deborah deserved to die, because the love that Muslims have for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is unquantifiable, and they cannot stand idly by and watch him be insulted. While I agree that it is unacceptable for anyone to insult another’s religion, I insist that the law provides the penalty for blasphemy. And, when people routinely ignore the law and do their own form of justice, and the state allows the perpetrators to get away with such illegal actions, it shows that law and order has been broken with the complicity of the government/judiciary which should administer and enforce the law.

Personality Traits of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

Allah, through His Holy Book which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) whom Muslims follow, does not prescribe the death penalty for blasphemy, nor did the Prophet kill those who insulted him. With all the fuss over blasphemy, I decided to examine the personality traits of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – the one whom Sokoto students claimed avenged blasphemy against him – if he would subscribe to this kind of violence.

Also important is the fact that the Prophet lived his life in full accordance with the will of Allah, and his ways serve as a guideline for all Muslims to follow on how to live their lives according to Islam. The Holy Quran says that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a man who possessed the highest moral excellence – “And indeed you are of great morals” (Quran 68:4). God made him a role model for Muslims – “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent model for whoever hopes in Allah and in the Last Day and [who] often remember Allah” – Quran 33:21.

After studying it, I honestly couldn’t come to the conclusion that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would approve of such heinous crimes like mob justice murder and barbaric means, to be committed in his name. The Prophet was one of the kindest, most considerate and compassionate people who ever walked this earth. And, I will give three examples to support this point. We can also learn about the traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), from the Hadith.


1) The first example concerns a man who was said to defecate daily where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stood to lead prayers. On a specific day, when the Prophet arrived at his place of prayer, the man was not there. Also the next day, the man did not come. So, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went to the man’s house to check on him and found out that the reason he didn’t show up was because he was sick. The man was so overwhelmed by the Prophet’s display of love, concern and kindness that he converted to Islam.

2) The second example concerns a woman who, in order to get revenge on the idols she worshiped, went daily to throw objects like stones on the road that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) walked every day. Another account tells that, daily, a woman threw rubbish on the head of the Prophet in passing. The Prophet did not change his itinerary; he simply prayed for her, and one day when he didn’t see her, he went to her house and found that she was sick; he cleaned her house and offered to help her until she recovered. She was so inspired by her actions that she asked the Prophet’s forgiveness and converted to Islam.

3) The Prophet was humble, truthful and merciful. He forgave his enemies, even when they criticized him. An example of this is the people of Taif, who called children to mock the Prophet and stone him. He didn’t react, and instead he prayed for them.

Obviously, Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) reaction to the insult was to ignore it and pray that his attackers would see the light. He ignited the desire to convert to Islam by his conduct. So when I watched a video of a Muslim cleric somewhere in the North spouting hatred and advising his audience to kill anyone who blasphemes against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), I wondered where he got his own teaching, because it is not only anti-Islamic, but against the personality of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and what he stood for. The Muslim cleric was stirring up hatred between classes contrary to Section 417 of the Penal Code (Northern States) Federal Provisions Act (PCA), punishable by up to three years in prison.

True adherents to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the faithful Muslims, not only avoid hatred and violence as he did, they do not preach it, encourage it or tolerate it. On the contrary, they teach their followers to turn away from hatred and violence.


Again, what we saw in some of Sokoto’s videos had nothing to do with blasphemy or religion. On the contrary, it was an opportunity for some to take advantage of the problem and resort to pure criminality – break-ins by burglars in merchants’ shops, theft and looting of goods such as fabrics; destruction of products; break into the house of a woman of southern origin and beat her repeatedly with a weapon (big stick). Islam abhors theft – “[As for] the thief, male and female, amputate their hands as a reward for what they did as a deterrent [punishment] of Allah. And Allah is Mighty and Wise” (Quran 5:38 Surat-Im-idah). Another version of the Quran says: Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief, male or female, as a reward for what he has done, a punishment as an example from Allah. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.” However, the Constitution does not give Sharia courts or customary courts criminal jurisdiction, but on the one hand, sections 286 and 287 of the PCA provide for the offense of theft and up to five years imprisonment in conviction case.

mob justice

It is obvious that the people who commit these heinous crimes of mob justice do not appear to be true followers of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), if we compare their conduct to his. While some of them are just psychopaths, others have been brainwashed by ignorant and vicious religious people, while others are suffering from poverty, lack of education, unemployment, poverty. idleness, etc., and such situations are used to vent their frustrations and loot when the opportunity arises.

Of course, there are other types of popular justice, apart from religious justice. Thieves are often lynched by mobs and burned to death with tires. Much like the religious mob lynching, the robber lynching is referred to as an “aggressive mob”, where the mob passes judgment on a person suspected of having committed a crime, rather than following due process or letting the law follow. his courses. Mafia members find it easier to be more destructive, as they believe they cannot be easily identified to pay for their crimes. But, in the age of smart phones and their video cameras, it has become easier to isolate these criminals. Those who lynched the late Bridget Agbahime in Kano were known, while Deborah Yakubu’s killers and the Sokoto looters were also seen on video. Mob justice is a vast topic that space limitations do not allow me to address, but suffice it to say that aggressive mob justice condoned by the state will only encourage this horrible practice to become the norm rather than the exception. In some cases, the loss of confidence in the criminal justice system encourages mob justice. But, in many cases that we see in Nigeria, it really has nothing to do with it.


An effective way to eradicate this unhealthy practice is for the government to throw out the book on mob justice perpetrators. In the Quran, Surah al-Nisa 4:135, Allah said: “O you who have faith, stand firm in equity (qist) as witnesses of Allah, even if it be against yourselves, or your relatives , or your loved ones. Whether rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of the two. Do not follow your desires, so that you may be just (ta’dilu)”. Again, in Surah al Ma’idah 5:8 Allah said: “O you who have faith, stand firm for Allah as righteous witnesses (qist), and do not let the hatred of people prevent you from being righteous. Be just (‘idlu), for that is nearer to justice”. Islam enjoins the faithful to be fair and non-partial. State governments and the judiciary in the North are populated by faithful Muslims, who must also follow the injunctions of the aforementioned surahs. If gangsters are accused of committing criminal acts, it is the responsibility and expectation that the government be fair in giving the appropriate punishment to those who deserve it.


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