Date: 26th Muharram, 1444 AH
24th August, 2022
On Tuesday, August 9, 2022, an Ikeja Special Offences Court sentenced Pastor Erinmole Adetokunbo and another Christian, Adedoyin Oyekanmi, to death for the heinous crime of beheading a seven-year old Muslim boy, Kazeem Rafiu, and using his head for rituals in a church. It was the culmination of a five-year case involving the duo, who on June 7, 2017 viciously cut off the innocent boy’s head, buried it under the altar of their church and threw his body into the canal. It was a most condemnable murder of the highest order committed in the name of fetish development of the church.
In the words of the just judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, who delivered the judgement, the evil pastor and his accomplice “have cruelly and intentionally killed a seven-year old boy. This deprived him and his family of a bright destiny.” Though the judgement would not restore the precious soul of the young Kazeem, it proves that the path adopted by Lagos Muslims of allowing Christian criminals to be treated as other criminals and not criminalise Christendom for it is civil and logical. The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) cannot but acknowledge the development which it had been closely monitoring since the unfortunate incident sent shock waves to the country in 2017.
We unequivocally commend the judiciary for meticulously carrying out the investigation and delivery of justice. Though it is well known that justice delayed is justice denied and we hope that the wheel of justice shall roll much faster in future, it is still gratifying that the prosecution was diligently carried out until judgement was served without fear or favour.
Many Muslims felt beheading a Muslim boy for church rituals is distasteful and provocative enough for NSCIA to have condemned Christianity and the Christians. Such Muslims, who expect NSCIA to adopt divisive propaganda approach of others, fail to realise that two wrongs do not make a right.
The stance of the Council, however, is that one does not bite a dog because it has bitten one and you don’t roll with pig in the mud just because it enjoys doing so. The Council believes that criminals are criminals and they should be so treated without appealing to base emotions or using the crime of a minority to vilify, malign or torment the majority. Neither the church nor the Bible asked the evil pastor and his accomplice to do what they did, we insist, and they should be distanced from the teachings of Jesus.
If the Council had chosen to be cantankerous like others, innocent Christians would have been unduly tormented, the church would have been maligned and the polity would have been overheated on the sensationalisation of a pastor murdering a Muslim and burying his head in his church.
For the avoidance of doubt, the penchant for weaponising religion for political expediency and constantly harassing Muslims in general for the misdemeanor of every criminal that is nominally associated with Islam is detestable to every conscionable Nigerian, not just Muslims. Religious leaders should rather be circumspect in their utterances and pronouncements as true people of God, not politicians in cassocks. They should resist the temptation of inflaming passions through the baseless allegations of the so-called Fulanisation and Islamisation, which are actually a smokescreen for their discreet atrocities and undisguised bigotry against Muslims in Nigeria. This is just a piece of advice and religion is essentially about giving advice.
In the same manner, the Council strongly condemns the gruesome murder of Sheikh Goni Aisami Gashua last Friday (August 19, 2022) by two suspected soldiers, Lance Corporals John Gabriel and Adamu Gideon of the 241Recce Battalion, Nguru, Yobe State. Following the arrest of the criminals in army uniform, we call for calm among the Muslim ummah especially in Yobe State and immediate action from the authorities starting with the prosecution of the perpetrators in order to serve as a deterrent to others who use their positions to kill innocent Nigerians.
According to reports, Sheikh Aisami was driving back to Gashua from Nguru, when in adherence to the Islamic code of assisting the needy, he offered to give a soldier a ride in his car when he met him at the military check-point to Jaji-Maji in Karasuwa Local Government Area of Yobe State. However, he shot him dead in cold blood some kilometers away, called his colleague to assist in fleeing with the deceased vehicle and threw millions of his family members, students, followers and the entire Muslim community into mourning. We are particularly grieved by this tragedy because it is axiomatic in Islam, according to the narration of Ibn Mas’ud, that “the death of a scholar is a loss that cannot be replaced for as long as the day and night alternate.”
While appealing to Muslims to have faith in the military authorities and the judiciary in thoroughly investigating the murder and bringing the perpetrators to justice, we urge them not to read religious motives into the incident as others would do. We are not like them. Since we come from Allah and we shall all return to Him and no soul would taste death except with His leave, the Ummah should rest assured that the perpetrators will come to judgement. Muslims should therefore remain calm as they join us in praying that Allah grant him and others like him Aljannah Firdaos.
Meanwhile, we wish to express our disappointment in the Federal Government on the way and manner in which the murder of Gen. Alkali was handled. Up till this moment, we have not heard what became of his killers. While we sue for justice in the case of Sheikh Aisami, we charge the Federal Government to ensure that the killers of Gen. Alkali are brought to face the wrath of the law.
Once again, the Council commends the judiciary, condemns those who use every available instance to cast aspersion on Muslims and Islam in Nigeria and charges the authorities to expeditiously bring the murderers of Sheikh Aisami to book.
Prof. Salisu Shehu
Deputy Secretary General
Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs