We the undersigned, writers, artists and citizens of
Nigeria worldwide wish to register our unequivocal
condemnation of the religious death sentence or fatwa
passed by Muslim leaders in Zamfara State on Ms. Isioma
Daniel of ThisDay newspaper.
In the past week, a number of Nigeria cities have been
thrown into a situation of utter chaos stemming from the
willful manipulation of religious passion. The
country has not even begun to take account of the
enormous cost that this latest round of violence means
for the political or psychological health of the
citizens. Nor can we start calculating what this latest
ugly incident means for the status of the country in the
world, knowing that our country is increasingly taking
on the image of an insecure space for the exercise of
all the fundamental humans right.
We regret the unfortunate consequences of the article
authored by Daniel. We commiserate with those of our
fellow citizens who have lost persons or properties to
the riots. We regret the impact of the riots and their
immediate consequences on the corporate image of
Nigeria, and are especially concerned that this is
coming so soon after so many other acts of bloodletting,
too many to count. In the past ten years at least
citizens of Nigeria have been needlessly victimized by
political, ethnic and religious riots, such that the
basic confidence that a citizen is free to assume in the
society is all but shattered.
However, the country has lost so many lives in this
incident that we consider any attempts to further deepen
the animosity between fellow citizens as both
unacceptable and unconscionable. Such divisive tactics
that cause further hate and suffering to innocent
citizens cannot be in the name of the Prophet (Peace be
unto Him) or the spirit of the Holy Month of prayer and
It is objectionable that the Muslim leaders of Zamfara
State are making this hateful call at all, but
particularly so when the orgy of violence has not quite
subsided. This is a needless, wicked, inhuman ploy to
further polarize our country. Religion, organized or
otherwise, is a form of communion, a medium for
community-building. We condemn this call for the
religious assassination of Daniel.
We demand that the federal government and its agents
take a clear and firm stand on this matter of Muslim
leaders demanding the head of a fellow citizen on
account of their religious faith. For the avoidance of
doubt, given that Ms. Daniel DID NOT commit any crime
under our secular, federal laws, any attempt on her life
would be a capital crime punishable by law. Ms. Daniel’s
fundamental human rights, including her right to life,
as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution and
International Law, must be guaranteed by the Federal
Government. We hold both the Muslim leaders of Zamfara
State and President Obasanjo responsible should Ms.
Daniel come to any harm for being a journalist. The
Federal Government and its officers will stand charge
of complicity and dereliction of duty should it fail to
condemn this fatwa imposed on a Nigerian citizen.
Finally, given that Nigeria is now under a permanent
state of crisis producing bloodbaths upon bloodbaths,
the causes of which flow more directly from the absence
of generally accepted TERMS OF THE UNION of the
federating nationalities, we propose that the
convocation of a Sovereign National Conference be
declared the primary political objective of the country.
To this end, we call on both houses of the National
Assembly, and all state houses of assembly to, first,
pass resolutions for such a declaration, and second, to
introduce in the shortest possible time (before the next
presidential election) bills (at the state level) and a
bill (at the national level) to set the framework for an
SNC whose processes must be complete before 2007.
We also urge the electorate to use the SNC as the true
test of any political ambition or party’s manifesto (if
they had any) with regard to the forthcoming elections.
Without a country, there would be no politics, religious
or otherwise. So let those who aspire to high office
first assure us of their commitment to securing the
stability and health of the nation they wish to govern.