CAN condemns release of suspects in Kano blasphemy killing

Five suspects arraigned on Friday, June 10, 2016, in Kano over the killing of 74-year-old Bridget Agbahime for alleged blasphemy. Credit: Mohammed Kabir.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has strongly condemned the release, without trial, of all suspects in the murder of a 74-year-old Christian woman, Bridget Agbahime, in Kano.

Mrs. Agbahime was killed in June at Kofar Wambai Market by a mob after she was accused of blasphemy.

Five suspects were charged with the murder before being dramatically discharged on the directives of the state government.

In a statement by CAN’s director of public affairs, Kwamkur Samuel, the association described the release as highly provocative and an insult to the collective sensitivity of the various religions of Nigeria, in a democratic setting.

“The Christian Association of Nigeria is deeply saddened by the news of the release without trial of the five suspects accused of killing a 74 year old Christian woman in Kano, Mrs Bridget Agbahime who was murdered sometime in June, 2016. This is a highly provocative and insultive act on our collective sensitivities as a democratic nation if the newspapers reports are‎ correct.

“The Association condemns the continuous act of killing of innocent Nigerians under the pretence of blasphemy and considers the willful absence of justice for victims of these mindless killings in Nigeria by the relevant authorities as a very serious constitutional breach and security threat to our unity and collective survival as a nation. The now-familiar tradition of avoidance to arrest or properly investigate and prosecute cases involving the deliberate killing of innocent Nigerians is evidence of a scripted plan to operate another nation within the Nigerian state and to deny justice to those who truly deserve justice,” CAN said.

The association said that Nigeria has not recorded any successful prosecution of persons involved in cases of blasphemy and called on the government to meet its responsibility of protecting the lives of citizens.

“The cardinal responsibility of Government to protect the lives and property of the citizens is sacrosanct and must not be sacrificed on the altar of religious convenience. As it stands today, there is no single prosecution record of any criminal who killed under the pretence of blasphemy in Nigeria despite the number of victims and incontrovertible facts showing that those killings were done in daylight and mostly by persons who live within the communities where these heinous crimes were committed.

“The Association calls on the Kano State Government and the Inspector General of Police to execute justice on behalf of the blood calling out for it. The act of condoning crass criminality in the name of blasphemy deserves greater attention and broader treatment in this era of transforming the mindset of the citizens to work toward progressive change,” it said.

CAN expressed readiness to ensure justice for all its members affected by acts of religious intolerance.

“As the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, we will not relent in our effort to ensure that justice is served on the religiously intolerant and to ensure that all Nigerians are treated equally irrespective of their faith, social status and where they come from.

“CAN deeply sympathizes with the family of the Kano victim over the rather very sad outcome of the case and assures that the pursuit of justice is a noble task of all well-meaning citizens working together toward a more decent and better society.”

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