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Nigeria: 34 Senior Lawyers Mount Defence for Deborah’s Suspected Killers in Court

A legal team of 34 lawyers, led by a law lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Mansur Ibrahim, on Monday, appeared in defence of two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu

A legal team of 34 lawyers, led by a law lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Mansur Ibrahim, on Monday, appeared in defence of two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, arraigned over the murder of Deborah Yakubu.

The 200-level female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was stoned to death and burnt last Thursday for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.

The court appearance came as Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, relaxed a 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis as a result of protest by irate Muslim youths opposing prosecution of the murder suspects.

In Nasarawa State, the governor, Abdullahi Sule, appealed to the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) not to join a planned protest by the Christian community across the country against Deborah’s killing. Sule made the call at the state’s security council meeting at Government House, Lafia. He said it was to prevent a possible hijack of the protest by hoodlums.

However, the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA), on Monday, demanded accelerated prosecution of those involved in the murder of the late Deborah. SaMBA also berated the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for what they described as a “level of insensitivity not fitting for a president.” That was after Atiku, a presidential aspirant, allegedly deleted his tweet condemning Deborah’s murder following threats by some fanatics to deny him their votes at the forthcoming elections.

The suspects, Aliyu and Hukunci, also students of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, who appeared before a Sokoto Chief Magistrate’s Court, under tight security, over their alleged involvement in Deborah’s murder, pleaded not guilty to the crime.

In the First Information Report (FIR), Prosecuting Police Officer, Inspector Khalil Musa, told the court that the suspects were accused of participating in disturbance act that led to the death of Deborah last Thursday.

When the charges were read, the accused pleaded not guilty.

Ibrahim applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons and urged the court to grant the accused persons bail on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

The trial judge (name withheld for security reasons) reserved ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at the correctional centre, Sokoto.

The bloody students’ unrest was caused by an alleged blasphemy by the deceased student against the Islamic religion through a social media group. The students, in mob outrage, had traced the female student, killing her and burning her corpse at the school’s security gate after overpowering the college security personnel.

In a move to avert a major religious crisis over the killing of the female student, Tambuwal had, last weekend, declared a 24-hour curfew in Sokoto metropolis. The curfew came as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, suspended all masses in Sokoto metropolis, but clarified that his residence was not attacked.

The curfew in Sokoto followed protests by some Islamic faithful that greeted the condemnation of the killing by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.

CAN had at the weekend called on all its members to embark on peaceful protests nationwide on May 22, 2022.

The remains of Deborah were laid to rest at the weekend in her home town, Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.

Tambuwal Relaxes Curfew in Sokoto, Preaches Peace

Tambuwal, on Monday, relaxed the 24 hours curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis as a result of protests by the irate Muslim youths in the state. In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Isa Bajini Galadanchi, the governor said the relaxation of the restriction of movement was sequel to a briefing by the security chiefs in the state.

Tambuwal explained that the revised curfew would now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto Township. This, he said, was to afford people the window to pursue their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood.

The government, however, advised people to maintain peace, stressing that it would not condone any breach of law and order in the state

In a related development, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Sokoto State, debunked a video making the rounds in social media portraying one Anita Josephine Ogonna as a serving NYSC member caught in the web of unrest that engulfed Sokoto recently.

A statement by NYSC’s Public Relations Officer in the state, Sani Idris, said the video was untrue and the mere imagination of the initiators.

“The NYSC management hereby states that the said video, which has gone virile, is baseless and designed by mischief makers to create fear in the minds of corps members, parents, and, indeed, the general public,” the statement added.

Idris further said while the NYSC management sympathised with those affected by the unfortunate incident in the state, those captured in the said video were not Sokoto corps members. He urged the general public to disregard the video in circulation.

The NYSC spokesman disclosed that the security and welfare of corps members remained a cardinal policy thrust of the scheme, adding that the NYSC management and Sokoto State, “Shall never shirk responsibility of ensuring that no corps member is harmed.”

Deborah: Don’t Join Planned Protest, Gov Sule Tells Nasarawa CAN

Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, on Monday, asked the state chapter of CAN not to join the planned protest by the Christian community in the country. Sule made the appeal in his opening remarks at the state’s security meeting held at the Government House, Lafia.

He maintained that his appeal became necessary because of the fragile nature of the state and the fear that hoodlums might hijack the peaceful protest and throw the state into anarchy.

The governor stated, “I will like to appeal to our leaders to ensure that we don’t join in this peaceful protest, especially, because of the fragile nature of our state. This is similar to what we have done also when doctors, teachers, ASUU, all in the past, wanted to go on strike, but we appealed to these bodies in the state not to join.

“The reasons being that the nature of our own state is peculiar and different from some of these other states. And sometimes peaceful people, very good people, will actually begin to protest in one way but they lose control because some hoodlums will come in and hijack the protest.”

Sule appealed to the leadership of CAN to allow the law take its course, especially as the federal and Sokoto State governments had already come into the matter and were taking action. He, therefore, assured that the murderers would not go unpunished.

Describing the killing of Deborah as unfortunate, the governor said his administration was taking steps to protect the people and ensure similar things did not happen in Nasarawa State.

Southern, Middle Belt Alliance Demands Prosecution of Perpetrators

The Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA), yesterday, called for accelerated prosecution of those involved in the murder of the late Deborah. SaMBA, in a statement signed by Prince Rwang Pam Jnr., said the killing of the student was not acceptable under any guise.

The group berated former Vice President Atiku Abubakar for what it called a “level of insensitivity not fitting for a president.”

It added that Atiku portrayed an ugly weakness now that Nigerians were unanimous in the search for a competent Commander- in-Chief.

SaMBA regretted that the victim was another youth, who could, perhaps, have voted Atiku in the next election, if she was alive.

Atiku was alleged to have condemned the killing in a tweet, only to delete it after the fanatics threatened to withdraw their votes for him in the forthcoming presidential election.

SaMBA appealed to the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to, as matter of urgency, sensitise Muslims across the country to the fact that killing in the name of God was against Islam, as Islam was synonymous with peace.

SaMBA said in the statement, “It is very pathetic that Samuel Deborah, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State, was stoned to death and set ablaze on Thursday by her fellow students for allegedly making a blasphemous statement on a WhatsApp group.

“The act by her fellow students is condemnable in its entirety and we call on security agencies to ensure that all those involved in the killing of Deborah Samuel face the full wrath of the law.

“The case must not be swept under the carpet if we want to bring an end to killings in the name of religion.

“We are not afraid to say that all those involved in the killing of Deborah Samuel are potential bandits and Boko-haram members.”

SaMBA added, “The former vice president has cleared all doubts about his desperation for power and his proclivity to religious fundamentalism, even though he might have made strenuous attempts over the years to hide his bigotry.

“Atiku’s action sends dangerous signals about the kind of president he would be if Nigerians make the mistake of electing him as our Commander-in-Chief.

“He has shown that the blood of innocent people, no matter where they come from, does not matter to him.

“He has shown that he can shield lawbreakers and murderers to protect and preserve his political interest.

“Atiku has portrayed a most disgusting weakness, especially at a time when Nigerians are looking for a competent Commander-in-Chief that can take the war to terrorists.

“For him, political correctness is more important than national correctness, and this is dangerous.”

Calling on Nigerians to elect a president from southern Nigeria, SaMBA stated, “A president of the South-east extraction will heal our nation of such bigotry and build a Nigeria where every section and religion can co-habit harmoniously.”

Dickson Condemns Deborah’s Killing, Urges Nigerians to Unite against Extremism

The senator for Bayelsa West, and immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, called on Nigerians in positions of authority to condemn in the strongest terms possible the grisly murder of Deborah by extremists. Dickson also urged all politicians aspiring to lead the country in various capacities to condemn the reprehensible killing of the student.

The former governor commended the Sultan of Sokoto and Sheik Ahmad Gumi for promptly condemning the unfortunate incident. He also welcomed the proactive measures put in place by Tambuwal to ensure peace and order in the state.

The senator commended Bishop Kukah and other Christians for their role in preventing reprisal actions.

Dickson, who condole with the family of the late Deborah, said a country where people took laws into their hands to carry out such barbaric act was not what Nigerians deserved. He said those involved in the heinous act should be made to face justice, as their action violated the laws of the land.

He urged Nigerians of all religions to condemn extremism and take a united position against it.

Dickson stated, “I condemn the brutality of the unacceptable act which is clearly a violation of the laws of Nigeria. I also call for the authorities to take appropriate action and all those who are in authority and leadership to join in condemning this barbaric act.

“This cannot be the Nigeria that we seek, we deserve better than this. I call on Nigerians to respect the religious sensibilities of each other and they should unite against extremism in all religions, as we are a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural nation.”

Ex-SGF, Babachir Lawal, Denies Urging Christians to Avenge Deborah’s Murder

Former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal, denied reports that he was instigating Christians in the country to avenge the killing of Deborah Yakubu, a Christian student, in Sokoto by Muslim fanatics.

Lawal said in a statement on Monday, “There is a voice note being circulated in the social media purported to have been made by me inciting Christians to retaliate the recurring violence repeatedly unleashed on Christian individuals, their communities, and their properties as epitomised by the recent burning to death of Miss Deborah Samuel and church property in Sokoto.

“While I rightly feel indignant about these killings, it is not in my character to incite people to retaliate.”

The former SGF added, “Besides, the voice on the voice note is not mine neither is it in my character to incite revenge,” and the Bible “clearly urges believers to leave vengeance to God.”

Lawal explained that he had always urged all “victims of religious bigotry and violence to obey this injunction.”

He said further, “I am particularly heartened that the parents of Deborah Samuel have chosen this path. For those whose interest is best served by this wicked and cowardly act of trying to sully my name, I wish them well. But, certainly, it was not done by me, neither did I say such. Certainly, the voice is not mine, the sentiment is not mine, and the grammar is not mine.”

Lawal urged “all my friends and family to ignore this malicious act.”

He also disclosed that he was prepared for court action against those trying to tarnish his image and name through the spurious voice note, “and they will be made to have their day in court.”

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