By Leo Igwe

A relative to a Christian barber, who was arrested for blasphemy, has refuted the claim by the Police PRO in Kano that Elijah Ode’s arrest was in connection with a rape incident. The Police PRO made this claim in a report that PM news published yesterday. Here is a disclaimer as issued by one Smith Akoko.

ELIJAH ODEH WAS NOT ARRESTED FOR RAPE: A DISCLAIMER

Against yesterday’s publication of PM News, wherein one Mr. Abdullahi Haruna, reported to be a Kano Police PRO, was quoted as saying that the detained Benue-born barber in Kano, Elijah Odeh, was arrested for rape and not blasphemy – a statement which describes as false the earlier report of this writer on the barber’s arrest – may it be known to the general public that Elijah has not in his life been invited by the Police over a rape allegation. For the records, Elijah was arrested over a style of hair found on two of his customers’ heads which a group of Muslims found offensive to their religion and Prophet Muhammad. If it were not so, why was the barber arrested twice for this reason and not another? Elijah was indeed charged at the court for offenses unconnected to the reason for his arrest, yet rape was not one. These charges are conspiracy, inciting disturbance, and screening of offenders. So one wonders where the PRO manufactured ‘rape’ from. But by this, he seems to be confirming the rumor rending the air that Kano Muslims have cast their fangs on ensuring a death sentence for the innocent lad since their attempt to be extrajudicial to that end proved abortive. But does even rape attract that penalty? Mr. Haruna, according to the report, alleged that the report that Elijah was arrested for blasphemy was meant to cause trouble. By this statement, the PRO has condemned an arrest based on blasphemy. For a lawful arrest would not tend to cause trouble.’ But aside from that, if Haruna was speaking to educated and trained journalists, would he not have too many correspondents who would question why he had to wait for nine days after Elijah’s arrest before serving the public this measure of cooked lies which is bereft of spices? It would’ve been needless to dignify Haruna with this statement. More so, his insidious claim is neither recognized by the police that arrested the victim nor by the court that tries. However, in a country where telling lies is a stock in trade and many people queue in patronage, silence would do Elijah’s image – and certainly not his life – no good. It is important to note that Elijah is a dedicated believer, born and bred with the fear of God in a good Christian home. Given his upbringing, he upholds such virtues as diligence and morality and despises hooliganism to the latter. For these reasons and many others, Elijah would flee to no end in the event of possible seduction. He, therefore, would not tow the path of rape, even if it is legalized in Kano. It is understandable, however, that Haruna embarks on this shameful outing. In a case where a group of people is roundly condemned for practicing religion at the expense of a person’s life, a lie or two could be instrumental in an attempt at public distraction. But which religion endorses that style of life? Certainly, not of Elijah nor his traducers. So, where is Haruna’s conscience?

Smith Akoko is an activist and writes from Benue, Nigeria.

This clarification is a welcome development. Ode’s relatives should be commended for their courage and refusal to be intimidated by the Islamic police in Kano. This claim once again underscores the extent that the police in Kano could go to cover up the illegalities of the Islamic police in the state. The Islamic police, also known as Hisbah, have been responsible for the arrests, abuses, and imprisonment of suspected blasphemers, including Mubarak Bala, Umar Farouk, and Yahaya Shariff.

Unfortunately, the Kano state government continues to condone and enable these violations. It is high time that the Kano state government and its ragtag Islamic police and clerics were called to order. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Islamist governor of Kano to unconditionally release Elijah Ode, Mubarak Bala, Yahaya Shariff, and others who have been illegally detained for blasphemy. Kano state must realize that the country and world are watching as Muslims take laws into their hands; as Muslims take undue advantage of their being in the majority to abuse and oppress others with impunity. These abuses will not reflect positively on Muslims and Islam elsewhere in the country and the world, now or in the future.

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