Francis Emmanuel, a 41-year-old resident in Kukari community in Kaduna State has become the known latest victim of religious bigotry in Nigeria.
The poor carpenter is currently recuperating in a hospital from injuries he sustained in the hands of marauding Almajari boys in the community on Tuesday. His ‘sin’ was that (as himself narrated the story), he was found eating during the Ramadan.
To his assailants, ‘infidel’ Emmanuel did not deserve to live for daring to eat at a time when people were observing the fasting rite. That’s their understanding of Ramadan and how it should be appreciated.
The Kukari saga was coming barely a week after an innocent, aged trader, Bridget Agbahime, was gruesomely murdered after argument in Kano. Several of such idiocy are surely going on in many parts of the country, though most of them unrecorded.
Thank goodness Emmanuel is alive today to tell his story, otherwise his life would have been cut short, like Agbahime’s, by the holier-than-thou, unreligious Almajiri boys. Governor Nasir el-Rufai has visited Emmanuel on hospital bed, fuming at the action of the youths.
This is where the governor’s controversial Anti-Preaching Bill would always get some mention. Governor el-Rufai had come under ‘attacks’ for his attempt to send a bill before the state House of Assembly to regulate religious preaching in the volatile state.
Of course, it may be essential to try educate religious preachers on moderation as against extremism and doctrine of hate. But beyond that, el-Rufai needs to dissipate his energy in a bill to outlaw this divisive practices in the state and across the country.
In a society where people cannot practice their religion as they ought to, then there is anarchy lurking around the corner. Kaduna State has seen enough crises. Though, the governor has ordered immediate arrest of perpetrators of the act, but this is not enough.
There is need for vigorous campaigns and enlightenment for these religious extremists to see every human as creation of the God they profess to love so much that they kill fellow humans to honour Him.
Political office holders should rise beyond pretenses and verbal condemnation of heinous crimes, but should be seen to be genuinely committed to the principle of secularity of the society.