The Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) Sokoto Branch and other Muslims have reacted to the statement of NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata, on the postponement of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) Conference scheduled to commence in Sokoto on 22nd May 2022, over the gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel.
According to MULAN, the President’s statement though purportedly meant to signify the postponement of the SPIDEL conference due to unverified security concerns in Sokoto is purely intended to harp on the incident of the killing of one Deborah Samuel, a student of ShehuShagari College of Education Sokoto.
MULAN, in a statement, said, “To members of the Nigerian Bar Association and the general public, statements of the NBA President, (MrAkpata) on matters of National and local concerns are mostly believed to be accurate and unbiased.
“However, in his statement issued on 17th May 2022, Mr Akpata alluded to “yet-to-be-confirmed reports” as the basis or part of the reasons that warranted the postponement of the Conference. The President of NBA, more than any other person, ought to verify facts, weigh sensitivity of issues and appropriately choose his words as the circumstances demand, in issuing his statements. This was clearly not the case in this instance.
“The NBA President could have simply cited security concerns in postponing the SPIDEL Conference, unverified though, those concerns could be, without abusing the sensibilities of majority of his members in Sokoto Branch in particular, and nationally in more general terms. The President rather chose to be both insensitive and, to an extent, insensible in the manner in which he issued his statement. Perhaps, the President was quite drenched in the euphoria of his wedding programs and merely appended his signature to a statement that he knows (or ought to know) could not go down well with his magnanimous hosts for the SPIDEL Conference.
“Deborah’s killing took place in the early morning of 12th May 2022 and videos of the killing went viral almost immediately. The appropriate time for the NBA President to issue a statement on the killing was immediately it came to his attention. Why wait for almost a week before issuing the statement, suggest an afterthought or something more than meet the eyes?!
“To hide behind the screen of SPIDEL Conference cancellation the President alluded to some events that happened a lot earlier like what he called “REPORTS of gruesome killing of security personnel,” “a young man (simply identified as David) was REPORTEDLY lynched by commercial motorcyclists around Lekki,” and “in Sokoto there is the UNFORTUNATE AND HEART-WRENCHING MURDER OF MISS DEBORAH YAKUBU…..” What a bias! Which is more of a senseless and despicable MURDER between a ‘provoked mob action’ and a cold blood killing (beheading) of security (military) personnel striving to ensure the security and unity of Nigeria or the lynching of a young man for reasons the NBA President did not care to investigate or mention in his statement.
“As contrary to the appropriate legal and judicial processes the killing of Deborah was, so provocative was her widely circulated voice comments made and sent to her class WhatsApp platform which is definitely blasphemous of the holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to many (majority) members of the Bar in Sokoto and beyond.
“It is therefore enormously unfair for the NBA President or anyone to condemn the killing of Deborah without condemning her unguided utterances.
“Postponing the SPIDEL Conference in Sokoto “as a mark of respect for Deborah” as stated by the President in his statement was being both inordinately insensitive to his members of the Islamic faith in Sokoto and Nigeria as a whole and an intrusion of the high esteem and dignity with which lawyers of the Islamic faith holds the holy Prophet (S.A.W.)
“While we do not support anybody taking the law into their own hands, we equally condemn the action of late Deborah who knew very well the sensitivities and sensibilities of her host community but still ignored that and damned the consequences of her blasphemous utterances.
“The NBA President should note that mutual respect for religions, beliefs and cultures of the teeming number of lawyers under his leadership is the bedrock for professional co-existence, civility and harmony. While we cannot demand the withdrawal of the already issued statement of the NBA President and the damage done thereby, it is but appropriate to ask that future comments by NBA President(s) should be fair, accurate and take into account the diversity of his members to avoid hurting sensibilities which could further divide an already divided NBA.
“We hereby demand that Mr President of NBA should withdraw his earlier comment and tender apology to the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Sokoto branch.”