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Deborah: Mob violence a political tool of the elite – Moses Ochonu

A US-based Nigerian professor, Moses Ochonu has stated that mob violence has political and religious use to the elite.

This was stated by Ochonu when he featured as a guest on 90MinutesAfrica, an online interview programme hosted by Rudolf Okonkwo and Chido Onumah.

Last week, Deborah Samuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto state, was killed by a mob over comments reportedly considered to be an insult to Prophet Mohammed.

The development has continued to elicit mixed reactions from Nigerians, with many condemning the act.

Speaking on the matter, the professor said cases such as the killing of Deborah may have a political undertone.

“Such barbaric killings do not have a place in the 21st century. Whatever the provocation is, whatever the excuse. This type of killing offends our sense of decency and our sense of humanity on many levels,” he said.

“Such mob violence as terrible as they are, tends to have its political uses. They have political utility for certain people.”

He said unemployed youths in the north are exploited by the northern elite to “manoeuvre” other regions.

“If the political tool fails, they have this army of poor and unemployed youths that they could unleash to do their biddings and vanquish their enemies,” he said.

“There is a problem of extremism in the north. The source of the extremism is partly doctrinal and partly socioeconomic. There are certain doctrines and ideologies that have made their way historically into northern Nigeria and have been left to fester and thrive.”

According to Ochonu, most people accused of blasphemy are never given the opportunity to defend themselves in court.

“We shouldn’t isolate the case of miss Samuel because it is the latest in a long line of such incidents in northern Nigeria where mostly minority Christians in these Muslim majority regions are accused of blasphemy of the religion of Islam or the prophet of Islam are essentially lynched even without being given the privilege of going throw the judicial process of having legal representation and evidence being presented,” he said.

“In most of them, we never get to see the evidence. So the accusation of blasphemy is never proven, obviously, the accsued is never given an opportunity to defend themselves and so it could be that some of these people have been lynched and murdered in a gruesome fashion simply on a mere accusation of doing something.”

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