A Muslim mob burned a 30-year-old Nigerian man to death in the capital of Abuja on June 4.
The murder of Ahman Usman, a security officer in The Vigilante Group of Nigeria in Abuja's Lugbe area, was allegedly accused of blasphemy. This sensitive issue recently resulted in violent incidents in the country. The Vigilante Group assists the local police in community matters.
Nigeria clash: Abuja mob burns man to death over row with Muslim cleric https://t.co/ymnK18WVl4
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 4, 2022
According to locals, the officer attempted to arrest a fried yam seller, Malam Lawan, who refused to pack up his produce after closing time at a local marketplace. Mr. Lawan has also been identified as a Shite cleric. Residents say that the cleric asked Usman to let him continue. An hour after closing, a heated argument ensued in which Usman said he could not give him any more time even “in Allah’s name” and was thereby accused of blasphemy.
Hours later, a mob showed up at the security office and started pelting stones, and tires were brought and set ablaze outside the office. Some of the security staff were able to escape, but Usman was grabbed by the mob, beaten, and thrown into the fire. He was later brought to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival due to his injuries.
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) June 4, 2022
Josephine Adeh, police spokesperson for Abuja, said, "the heated argument degenerated into an outbreak of violence that led to the murder and setting ablaze of Ahmad Usman by the enraged mob mobilized by the clergy, numbering about 200."
The BBC Abuja reporter, Chris Ewokor, testified that there seems to be rising mob violence.
In Africa's most populous nation, which is almost equally divided with most Christians in the South and primarily Muslim in the North, intercommunal tensions frequently arise.
A month ago, a mob set homes and shops on fire in Northern Bauchi after a Christian lady, Rhoda Jatau, posted a profane message on social media, according to police spokesman Ahmed Mohammed Wakili. The 40-year-old medical staffer was spirited off to avert danger after receiving information of an impending threat. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) leader in the state confirmed that a few buildings were burned down, and some Christians, including a pastor, were injured.
"We were at home Friday evening when we heard shouts from Muslim youths in their hundreds wanting to attack the ECWA church, but Christian youths and others resisted and repelled them, but after they had already set the shops attached to the Church on fire.", one of the sources said.
The incident happened barely a week after a Christian student was stoned and burned to death over the same allegation by Muslim students in the northwestern state of Sokoto. They alleged that Deborah Samuel criticized an Islamic piece posted on social media, which they considered a blasphemous comment against the Prophet of Islam.
In the space of three weeks 2 Nigerians were burnt to death for blasphemy. In Sokoto, and Abuja. 2 others barely escaped lynching in Borno and Bauchi. I condemn this descent to anarchy. And just like in Sokoto, I call for the speedy arrest of the Abuja perpetrators!#TableShaker
— Reno Omokri (@renoomokri) June 4, 2022
The gruesome death of the second-year college student of Shehu Shagari College of Education has raised an intriguing controversy on the place of Islamic Sharia in a secular democracy like Nigeria.
Blasphemy carries a capital penalty of death under Sharia which operates alongside common law in Northern Nigeria. However, human rights campaigners said that the surging mob violence over blasphemy is deeply fueled by a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system. Hence, in some cases, the accused are killed by mobs without due process.