Deborah Samuel: Prof Odinkalu Cancels Participation in Sokoto SPIDEL Conference over Stoning of Student for Blasphemy

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Personal Statement by Chidi Anselm Odinkalu Concerning the Proposed SPIDEL Conference in Sokoto


Good morning,

1. I am gratified that the Chairman of SPIDEL, my brother, Monday Ubani, MoU, has responded to this horrific incident in Sokoto. Sadly, much of the contents of his statement is beside the point at best. Other parts are gratuitously insulting. It seems clear his statement is more focused on saving a conference, which can take place anywhere, or on NBA politics, which is unending rather than on valorising human life and responsible government. The issues here are clear & his statement fails to reckon with any of them at all. That is why I consider it necessary to respond.

2. To begin with, if his comparison with Owerri & Imo State was meant to make any point, it fails. I would oppose the scheduling of any such conference by the NBA or any of its organs in Imo State right now without thinking twice about it and with a clear conscience. That part of his statement I found both cheap & self defeating.

3. So, MoU sent an sms to the state governor – who, by the way, was characteristically out of the state when this happened & did not see fit to return immediately. And he says that the state government did not do the killing, as if anyone said it did. That is worse than setting up a proverbial straw-man in order to demolish it.


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4. If all that MoU has done is send sms to the state governor & HAG, he sadly fails to get the point about this. You mean, all that bloviating evident on the face of his statement was done in order to convey the point that he has sent a mere SMS to the state governor?! And on the back of that he accuses colleagues of lacking “locus” whatever that means.

5. The reality is life has lost meaning in Nigeria. SPIDEL was set up to defend the meaning of human life in Nigeria. I know because I did. In case my brother does not recall, the guarantor of life under our constitution is not the state governor. It is the president. I may have missed it but I am yet to see what the President or Federal Govt has said about this incident. Nor has MoU said that he sent an sms to the President or to Abubakar Malami, since, in his view, an SMS is all that this incident requires. But an SMS addressed to the wrong recipient is not an SMS at all.

6. We do not need to be lawyers going to a conference in Sokoto to care about pre-Neanderthal killings of Nigerians anywhere in Nigeria. His line about people lacking locus is a gratuitous insult to a traumatised people.

7. I was prepared to suspend final decision on participating in Sokoto until I heard from the leadership of SPIDEL. Having now heard from them, it is clear to me that they do not get the significance of this issue. I am now convinced that I will be unable to accept an invite to participate in the SPIDEL conference.

8. So, I, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, am cancelling my participation. I will, in addition, actively campaign against the meeting. Everyone has to take their own decision. The SPIDEL leadership has taken its decision. I have taken mine. This is a matter of conscience.

I am City-Zen Chidi. This is my stand.

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