by Rasheed Abubakar 
 
The Ozubulu church killings of Sunday August 6, 2017 was an unfortunate and worrisome incident. However, it was not surprising. Nigeria is tending towards a status quo where many have little or no regard for human lives, not to talk of holy places. If not, how could such a grievous act be committed in the house of God? Even if the St. Philips Catholic Church was built with “drug money” as reported, embarking on a killing spree of members of the congregation which led to the death of 12 worshippers was a sacrilege, and the perpetrators of the heinous crime must not go unpunished. More than anything else, the tragedy is a reflection of the death of conscience in our society, which challenges us to seek ways of recovering our collective humanity from the abyss it is slipping into.
The tragic incident also exposes our hypocrisy and insincerity as a nation. In a bid to vilify the Northerners, the Hausa-Fulani herdsmen were quickly blamed for the bloody attack without evidence. The rumour mongers also alleged that the attack was part of a pseudo-Islamisation agenda, and unfortunately many Easterners fell for the news hook, line and sinker. Police findings later exonerated the Fulani herdsmen and identified the cause as an “isolated case of drug feud between two individuals from the same community living abroad.” As the Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano promised, some of the suspects of the dastardly act have been reportedly apprehended as investigations continue.
The attack came days after an anti-Igbo song calling for genocide in a section of the Nigerian community hit the social media. The controversial song, already in circulation in some parts of the North, is not unconnected with the long-standing face-off between the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (ACYF) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). While the latter is calling for an independent Biafra, the former has given pro-Biafra Igbos an October 1 deadline to vacate the region. As the threats continue on both sides, another group, Yoruba Liberation Command (YOLICOM) has also called for the declaration of an Oduduwa Republic, with the six southwest states – Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo – as constituents.
As these events unfold, it is unfortunate that the Federal Government, State Governors who are the Chief Security Officers of their States and elder statesmen have not done enough to caution Nigerians from inciting, provocative and hate speeches. Do we have to wait for Armageddon to take place before we swing into action? Allah (SWT) warns, “And fear Fitnah (turmoil, affliction and trial, etc.) which will strike, not only those (trouble makers) who committed wrong among you, and know that Allah is severe in penalty.” – Q. 8:25
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of innocent Nigerians have lost their lives to bloody communal and ethno-religious crises that have ravaged the country since Independence, most of which were due to government inertia in combating such.
Like the Ozubulu church killings, the dreaded Boko Haram sect, which has a subliminal political agenda, has killed thousands of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims indiscriminately, and destroyed hundreds of churches and mosques. The confirmation by the Borno State Governor, Ibrahim Shettima on Tuesday that the group killed 31 fishermen in Baga, Borno is a sign that the war against terror is yet to be won.
Those beating the drum of wars in Nigeria and their sponsors, irrespective of their status in the society, must be identified and brought to justice. Those behind the killings of innocent Nigerians in the name of Boko Haram, Badoo cult, militancy or other related offences such as the Ozubulu drugs saga and kidnappings must not go scot-free. Even if they are “distinguished” members of the society, justice must be served.
Allah (SWT) says: “O ye who believe: Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor, Allah takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard (this commandment), then Allah is fully cognizant of everything you do.” – Q. 4: 135
Some influential Nigerians, including a traditional ruler, were recently apprehended in connection with Badoo, a demonic cult terrorising the residents of the Ikorodu area of Lagos State and its environs. No fewer than 100 other suspects were also arrested and charged to court.
In what looked like a movie scene from Nollywood, eye witnesses say the devilish cult members would lay siege on a household, kill every occupant with grinding stones, mortars and pestles, after which they would use white handkerchiefs to clean their victims’ blood and sell such at N500, 000 per handkerchief or more to their patrons for rituals. N500, 000 to kill your fellow human? SubhanAllah!
Do these evildoers think they would not be resurrected, on a Mighty Day, the day on which they shall stand before Allah, the Lord of the universe? Do they think they can hide their sins from Allah their Creator? No! They cannot escape Allah’s punishments, even if they bribe their ways through in this life, except they repent before it is too late for them. The Prophet of Islam (SAW) affirmed; “The flesh and body that is raised on unlawful sustenance shall not enter Paradise. Hell is more deserving to the flesh that grows on one’s body out of unlawful sustenance.”
This should also serve as a lesson to our religious leaders who dine and wine with people of questionable character. I once wrote few weeks ago on this column, how some religious leaders abandoned their role as Allah’s vicegerents on earth for flashy and flamboyant lifestyles. They are supporting corruption, and are shamelessly careless about how they earn their money. Imagine a church of God allegedly built with drug money? And adherents of Christ would pray inside it! This is pathetic! We are indeed in the end time, a period when the Prophet (SAW) said people will not care how they gain their money, legally or illegally, as reported by Abu Hurayrah in the collection of Imam Bukhari.
Allah created mankind in pairs (male and female) and made us into tribes (Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, etc.) so that we may understand ourselves (by our languages) and live in peace as a nation (Nigeria), not to shed our blood because of money or other material intents. I admonish myself and all my readers to fear Allah and keep our duties to Him. And let every person look to what he has sent forth for the morrow (Q. 59: 18).
Those calling for secession should rather demand for basic amenities such as quality health care, good roads and quality education from government, and do everything within the law to ensure that their demands are met. Our unity and togetherness as a nation is not negotiable.
While the general public including elders from each ethnic group must work together with the relevant government agencies to bring about a peaceful Nigeria of our dreams, it is important we put Allah first in our affairs and rule by His commands. “…whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray nor shall be distressed” (Q. 20: 123). The true guidance of Allah is the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah (the way of life) of the Prophet (peace be upon him). For those who have sinned and wronged their souls, they should seek sincere repentance from Allah and never return to sins, “…verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. – Q. 39: 53
 
 
 
Rasheed Abubakar is a journalist with Daily Independent and the author of “Hijab and the Nigerian Press”. Email:rawshield123@gmail.com 
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