89th BIRTHDAY:Soyinka Calls for Public Holiday To Honor Traditionalists, Urges Reopening of Deborah’s Murder

Celebrating his 89th birthday, renowned Nigerian playwright and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, made three demands of the Federal Government.

He called for the reopening of unresolved cases of religious killings, the imposition of visa bans on those promoting religious violence, and the creation of a public holiday for traditionalists.

Soyinka’s appeal was motivated by the tragic case of Deborah Samuel, a second-year student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State, who was brutally killed on May 12, 2022, following allegations of blasphemy.

The incident, captured on video, showed Deborah being stoned and beaten by a mob on the school premises before being set ablaze.

The shocking incident sparked widespread outrage and condemnation across the country. Two suspects were subsequently arrested by the Sokoto police command, but as of August 2022, they remained at large.

Expressing his dismay at the lack of progress in the case, Soyinka condemned the failure of the police to arrest the suspects and ensure justice.

He called for all case files related to extrajudicial killings based on religious intolerance to be reopened, regardless of whether they involved alleged insults towards religious figures.l

Soyinka urged the international community to impose visa bans on individuals fueling religious violence in Nigeria.

Soyinka emphasized his demands during his birthday celebrations, stating, “I have three requests to make from all of us who are here, in fact, demands, on behalf of humanity.

One, all the case files must be opened on all those who have been killed as a result of intolerance. The files should be reopened and all those who were killed extrajudicially in the name of religion.”

Additionally, Soyinka called on the federal and state governments to designate a public holiday for traditionalists, similar to the holidays enjoyed by Christians and Muslims.

He emphasized the need for equal recognition and respect for traditional religions in Nigeria. Soyinka asserted, “Three, it is high time we demanded, on behalf of traditional religions, an annual holiday like Islam and Christianity.

We’ve had enough of being second-class citizens in this nation. So, equal time, equal space, we demand public holidays. We demand it from federal, state, and local governments. We want an annual public holiday.”


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