Home News Rhoda Jatau, Another Victim of Blasphemy

Rhoda Jatau, Another Victim of Blasphemy

Any Nigerian who is unfamiliar with the Deborah Yakubu story must be one who lives under a rock. For the benefit of rock dwellers, Deborah was a Christian young lady who was burnt to death by her schoolmates turned mob. She had allegedly insulted the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, and they decided that was an offence punishable by death instantly. Proud of themselves, they recorded the entire gruesome murder and posted it on the internet while celebrating their “revenge”.

But this story is not really about the horrific murder of Deborah. It is about the persecution of another Christian woman masked as a prosecution. Her connection to Deborah? She condemned the murder, and that was the beginning of her ordeal. Her name is Rhoda Jatau, an indigene of Bauchi state, a Christian, health worker, wife, mother and upstanding citizen with no prior criminal records. She has been incarcerated since May 2022 and is undergoing trial to prove that condemning a crime is not a crime!!!

A few days after the murder, 2 of the perpetrators were arrested and charged to court but later discharged and acquitted by the court because the police prosecution was absent. The charges were criminal conspiracy and public disturbance with no mention of murder or at least manslaughter.
Around the same time, Mrs Rhoda received a WhatsApp broadcast condemning the gruesome mother, and she forwarded it to her colleagues. She was taken into custody by the State Security Service and has not gained her freedom since then.

Recently, the high court in Bauchi ruled against her “case of no submission”, a petition her lawyers made to the court stating that her actions had no correlation with the charges of “inciting public disturbance”, “exciting contempt of religious creed”,, (this is the civil equivalent of blasphemy) and cyberstalking which would mean the prosecution has no case considering the scanty evidence they provided to back the charges. Rhoda’s charges are much more serious than those the murderers had been charged with and carry a heavier sentence upon conviction. And unlike the murderers who were granted bail early in their trial, her application has been denied several times.

Another disturbing observation made by Human Rights Activists from Christian Solidarity International and the UN is the deliberate effort made to sabotage her defence counsel by several adjournments, restricting her access to attorneys, amongst other human rights abuses all aimed at denying her Justice. The police prosecution, who were absent in the trial of the murderers leading to their freedom, has not missed a single sitting of Rhoda’s court sessions.

From all indications, the Nigerian State that allowed Deborah’s murderers to go scot-free is determined to prosecute and incarcerate Rhoda, who condemned the murder. Both Women are victims of “Blasphemy”, one lynched by religious fanatics, the other scapegoated by a system that should have protected them.

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