Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said yesterday that false alarm led to the killing last weekend of eight people in Talata-Mafara.
He debunked insinuations that it was a religious clash in which Christians were killed.
According to him, those killed were Muslims. He promised to ensure that the killers are brought to book.
Also yesterday, the apex Islamic body in the North, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), raised the alarm on a plot by some forces to hide under “blasphemy” to cause religious tension and crisis in the North and in the country at large.
A woman was killed in Kano and eight people were killed in Zamfara – for alleged blasphemy.
The Zamfara killings started when a student of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic and seven others were killed on Monday for alleged blasphemy against Islam.
A mob set fire to the house of a man who tried to rescue the student.
Speaking with reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Yari described the killings as an act of the devil.
He said: “From the intelligence I had from the security agencies, there was a fight between two students and I think one of them injured the other and started shouting that the other person abused Prophet Muhammad.
“Other students came and beat up the other boy who is Yoruba from Kogi State. Some people are saying he was a Muslim and some say the boy was a Christian. They beat the student until he collapsed and thought he was dead.
“Then security personnel requested help from one shop owner who then took the boy to the hospital in his car. When the students heard that the boy was still alive and in the hospital, they went to the hospital. But the boy was rescued by soldiers in the hospital.
“Then the students went back to the polytechnic and burnt down the shop of the person who gave his car to rescue the boy.
“They went back to town again and, as you know, the police in the division don’t have enough men to contain the riot and before reinforcement came, the crowd threw tyre in the man’s house and burnt down the house.
“That was how everybody in the house was killed and all the people killed in the House were Muslims and not like the rumours going around in the social media that Christians are being killed in Zamfara.
“In fact, the mob wanted to go and burn churches and attack non-Muslims but the security forces stopped them. It’s my home town and that’s where I live.”
The governor said no arrest had been made at the time he left the state for Abuja.
The police and the Department of State Service (DSS), he said, were investigating the incident.
According to him, the authority shut down the school immediately the incident happened.
Yari said: “The government will not take this lightly, people taking laws into their hands. If you say the punishment of who abused Prophet should be killed, and you now kill innocent people, knowing there is a government, laws and courts in place.
“So why should someone take laws into his hands? So definitely all the culprits will be brought to book.”
The JNI raised the alarm in a statement signed by its Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, who urged governments particularly in the North, to urgently check acts of blasphemy.
The statement condemned the Zamfara incident saying individual Muslims were not Jurists, but faithful in practising their religion and, therefore, have no right to pass judgment on emotions.
The statement said: “Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), upon the receipt of reportage on the alleged blasphemy of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is once again poised to make this release over the most unfortunate alleged blasphemy which occurred at Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara, Zamfara State.
“This recurring matter is becoming tediously monotonous and remains condemned in the strongest terms. The unfortunate attacks that ensued thereafter are criminal and also stand condemned. We reiterate that human lives are sacred and therefore must be dignified. That has been the position of Islam.
“JNI reemphasises that individual Muslims are not Jurists, but faithful in the practicing of the religion. Therefore, they don’t have the right to pass judgment on emotions. The nasty behavior of some miscreants should not be misconstrued as the Islamic teaching. In the light of which we commend the efforts of the Zamfara State Government in nipping in the bud the escalation of the crisis and equally the beefing up of security by the various security agencies, around Talata Mafara and its environs is also commendable.
“We however call on state governments, particularly in the North, to hasten mechanisms which will address these repeated acts of blasphemy; it seems that there are deliberate attempts to cause more tension in the region and the country at large, in the name of blasphemy.
“While we commiserate with all the affected victims of the unfortunate incident, we call on respective predominant Muslim communities to be very wary and cautious of crafty art of blasphemy within or around their respective communities and learn to handle such matters with utmost caution – no matter the provocation that may arise therefrom.
“The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, JNI calls on all and sundry to remain calm and avoid all actions that could jeopardise peaceful co-existence, especially at this material point of trying time of nation building.
“As always, the generality of Muslims are also implored to fervently continue praying for the restoration of peace and security in Nigeria.” The Nation