Mr. Gabriel Idibia, head of bureau of Daybreak Nigeria newspaper, who lives in Kaduna disclosed on October 16, 2023, that he has had to flee Kaduna and go into hiding after he was falsely accused of blasphemy.
The accusation arose after Mr. Gabriel Idibia shared a viral video featuring Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a prominent figure in Hamas.
Gabriel said he shared the video not for any other reason but to alert his colleagues so that they can have the opportunity for a healthy debate on the subject since the group was made up of journalists who ordinarily are shapers of opinion.
The video he shared in the general WhatsApp group of Kaduna journalists on the evening of October 12 is titled “Son of Hamas Exposes Muhammad.” It showed the said Mosab Hassan Yousef addressing speaking on religious intolerance.
Gabriel accused some of his Muslim journalist colleagues, including a former chairman of the Kaduna State Council of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and others who practice the Islamic faith, of instigating the blasphemy allegation against him.
“As journalist, we are enlightened individuals who l believe can have healthy debates without resort to primordial or religious sentiments,” he said.
He said he was however surprised to, discover that on the morning of October 13, he had been removed from the Kaduna journalists’ WhatsApp group, which had become a battleground of reactions and counter-reactions focused on his person.
he said while some colleagues tried to mediate with the Muslims, others insisted on holding him accountable for what they considered blasphemous actions.
he said: “I was shocked and traumatized as my intentions were clearly misconstrued”.
According to him, a few Christian journalist colleagues who supported his views suggested that he should be cautioned and forgiven, while some Muslim colleagues argued that sharing the video amounted to blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad and he should be dealt with.
he disclosed that as a result of the video, the group chat became filled with anger, criticism, hate comments, and outright insults and threats to his life.
Gabriel said: “Some of my colleagues who were more considerate advised that I should flee Kaduna immediately due to the growing threats and insults from both Muslim journalists and some non-journalists”.
Deborah Samuel Yakubu a second-year Christian college student in Shehu Shagari College of Education, in Sokoto, state of Nigeria similarly faced accusations of blasphemy in a WhatsApp group chat in May 2022. She was hunted down by her accusers and brutally murdered and nobody has been brought to book for the murder.