Alleged Blasphemy: Killing Of Deborah Is An Act Of Culpable Homicide Punishable With Death — Okutepa, SAN

Alleged Blasphemy: Killing Of Deborah Is An Act Of Culpable Homicide Punishable With Death — Okutepa, SAN

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*Says The Killing Is Premeditated And Wicked
*Calls On Sokoto Govt To Fish Out Those Behind The Heinous Crime
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, has reacted to the killing of Deborah Samuel, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State, who was burnt alive on Thursday.
The student was beaten to a pulp and burnt alive by male Muslim students who accused her of insulting Prophet Muhammed via a WhatsApp platform.
The school authority has shut down academic activities indefinitely as tension gripped residents of the area.
Okutepa, in a statement made available to nairalaw.com opines that the killing of the student amount to culpable homicide punishable with death.
He described those defending the murder as religious bigots who are either ignorant of Quran or simply choose to be law unto themselves. He called on the Sokoto State Government to fish out the perpetrators.
He said, “I think the killing of Deborah Samuel by some persons who claimed to be fighting for God on the ground that she defamed and insulted their prophet or whatever the alleged offence of the deceased is an act of culpable homicide punishable with death.
“Those who carried out such dastardly acts of wickedness and premeditated killing of that innocent Nigerian have committed the gravest offence under section 221 of the Penal code. I have seen reactions of some miscreants masquerading as preachers who advocated that anyone who insults their prophets should be killed.
“I think these miscreants and religious bigots are either ignorant of the holy book they profess to read and follow or they have chosen to be law onto themselves.
Whichever is the case I think Nigerian state and indeed Sokoto state has both legal and moral responsibilities to fish out those behind the heinous crime of aggravated murder of Deborah Samuel.”
Okutepa noted that there are decided cases on the situation as that of Deborah. Making reference to a decision of the Supreme Court, he opined that the situation should not be swept under the carpet.
He said, “Her death should not be swept under carpet as usual in Nigeria. Happily there are no dearth of authorities on this type of premeditated murder. His lordship Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad CJN has said so much on this.
“Hear his lordship: ‘The 1st issue to be put in its straight perspective is that Islamic Law, as opposed to common law, makes no provision for the defence of provocation. A sane and adult Muslim stands responsible and answerable to all his deeds or misdeed. Secondly, where he makes a free and voluntary confession, he is bound by his confession which is even regarded to be a better form of evidence than calling of witnesses. See Vawahir Al-Ikil, Sharh Mukhtasar AI-Khalil, Vol. II by Sheikh Salih Abd Alsami AI-Azhari, page 132, Wonaka v. Sokoto N.A. (supra). The trite position of the law under Sharia is thatany sane and adult Muslim, who insults, defames or utters words or acts which are capable of bringing into disrepute odium, contempt, the person of Holy Prophet Mohammad (SAW), such a person has committed a serious crime which is punishable by death. See: Al-khurshi, Commentary on Mukhtasar AI-Khalil. Vol.8 page 70; Hashiyatul Adawi Vol.2 page 290. However, as observed by the court below, Islamic law has not left the killing open in the hands of private individuals. The offence alleged has to be established through evidence before a court of law.
‘The court itself will have to implore its professional dexterity in treating the case by allowing fair hearing and excluding all the inadmissible evidence or those persons who may fall within the general exemption clause such as an infant, imbecile or those who suffer mental delusion. Thus, the killing is controlled and sanctioned by the authorities.
Abdul Qadar Qudah in his criminal law of Islam Vol. III: (Improved edition, 1999), stated that if any of the crimes involving Hudud (fixed punishment), Qisas (Retaliation) and Ta’azir (penal/ exemplary punishments) is imputed to a person he will be prosecuted against in a court of law. If the charge against him is established, sentence will accordingly be passed keeping in view the prescribed punishment. If the charge cannot be established, the accused will be acquitted. If the sentence is passed, the ruler or the competent authority will be responsible for its execution in respect of offences involving huddud and penal punishment. Such punishments can only be executed by the ruler or his deputy for HAD is Allah’s right which has been made obligatory.
‘Hence, the responsibility for its execution will be vested in the Imam or the ruler of the Community Besides, awarding of Had punishment requires exertion of the mind (Ijtihad) and it is likely to exceed the limit or be less than it. Hence, it is to be established by the ruler himself or depute his representative to do it on his behalf. (see generally pages 157-170 of the book under reference for further details).
The law will, thus have set a dangerous precedence if private individuals were authorized to take the law into their hands as the appellant and others did in this case. Sharia guarantees and values the sanctity and dignity of human life. That is why it outlaws unlawful killing of human life. The Quran has several verses in various chapters where it outlaws such nefarious acts. For instance, it provides in chapter 6 (Surat aI-An’ Am) verse 151 as follows:
“And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden (to be killed) except by (legal) right.”
‘The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said that the first action to be judged on the day of Judgment is the spilling of blood. (See Bulugh AI-Maram Min Adillatil Ahkam by Asqalani, page 244). In another Hadith, he is reported to have said that three things have been made illegal to a Muslim:
(i) to spill the blood of another or deprive him of his life (ii) to deprive him of his property and (iii) to deprive him of his honour or integrity. (See Forty Traditions of Imam An-Nawawi).
‘The appellant in this appeal did not show any of the courts that he had the requisite authority to take away the life of the deceased. He thus unlawfully deprived the deceased the opportunity to defend the allegations levelled against him before any court of law or authority. The village head of Kardi who was contacted by the appellant and others for authority to execute the deceased flatly refused authority as he fully well knew that he was not the right authority to grant such a leave. A learned person known as Ustaz Mamman drew attention of the appellant and his co-accused persons that they had no authority to take away the life of the deceased, yet they kept deaf ears and even described Ustaz as an infidel
‘I cannot see how these kind of people shall have any respite by the law. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Life is precious to all and sundry. He who kills by the sword shall die by the sword. I have no sympathy for the banishment of such busy bodies who respect no human life due to their high degree of misapprehension of the law or, should I say, complete ignorance of the law. The appellant failed to convince me through his explanations. But he is free to make further and better explanations to the hang man, though belatedly it may be.
‘I find no merit in this appeal. I dismiss same. I affirm the conviction and sentence of the trial court which were affirmed by the court below.
Appeal dismissed. See ABUBAKAR DAN SHALLA vs.STATE, (2007) LPELR-3034(SC), pages 66-69.”
The learned silk condemned the killing of Deborah having been done without fair hearing. According to him, does not give room for self help and Sharia law is not above the constitution. He called for prosecution of both the killers and the a bettors.
“So for anyone to kill any Nigerian under the guise of religion or abuse of prophet without given the alleged offender opportunity to be heard is not allowed in law. Islamic law does not have room for self help. Islamic law is not superior to Nigerian Constitution. I think the best we can do for the memory of Deborah Samuel is to ensure that those who murdered her are not allowed to go scot-free. Those who aided and abetted the murder and those who conspired to do so must be brought to book speedily to avoid religious persecution and war in Nigeria. Nigeria cannot afford religious war in addition to an otherwise bad security situation in Nigeria. The killing of Deborah Samuel must not end in mere condemnation.” Okutepa said
The post Alleged Blasphemy: Killing Of Deborah Is An Act Of Culpable Homicide Punishable With Death — Okutepa, SAN appeared first on nairalaw.com.

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