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Nigeria: Governor Tambuwal Declares Curfew as Protests Rock Sokoto, Bishop Kukah Suspends Masses 

In a move to avert major religious riots over the killing of a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Miss Deborah Samuel, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday,

In a move to avert major religious riots over the killing of a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Miss Deborah Samuel, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, yesterday, declared a 24-hour curfew in Sokoto metropolis.

Deborah was killed last Thursday by some fanatical students of the school over an allegation of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in a WhatsApp post.

The curfew came as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, suspended all masses in the Sokoto metropolis, but clarified that his residence was not attacked.
Meanwhile, the remains of Deborah were on Saturday laid to rest in her home town, Tunga Magajiya, in the Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
Following the protests in Sokoto, Governor Nasir-el-Rufai of Kaduna State has banned any form of religious protest across the state.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has called on all its members to embark on a peaceful protest nationwide on May 22, 2022.
The declaration of the curfew in Sokoto followed the condemnation of the killing by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.
Despite the tension that followed the condemnation by the Sultan, more condemnations have, however, greeted the despicable act.

The Sultan had on Friday condemned the killing of Deborah and charged the security agents to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to book.
This was said to have angered the extremists, who mobilised in the early hours of Saturday to the Sultan’s palace in Sokoto.
The irate youths, who described the Sultan’s comment as anti-Islam, demanded that those arrested over the killing should be released with immediate effect.
Palpable fear enveloped the Sokoto metropolis as the protesters, in their hundreds, trooped to the streets to express their displeasure over the detention of the two suspects arrested by the police over the killing of Deborah.

Major streets such as Ahmadu Bello Way, Kano Road, where banks are located, and Emir Yahaya Road, were deserted with business places and shops closed.
However, an attempt by the protesters to attack the Palace of the Sultan was resisted by security agents.
But despite the heavy presence of security personnel in some strategic areas within the state capital, the protesters stormed Ahmadu Bello Way church line, where Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, ECWA, and Cherubim &Seraphim churches are located.
The protesters set a car ablaze around St. Mary Catholic Church and destroyed properties in the church.
To avert major religious riots, Tambuwal therefore declared a 24-hour curfew within the metropolis.
In a state-wide broadcast, the governor stated that as the Chief Security Officer of the state, he relied on the power conferred on him by sections 176 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sections 1 and 4 of the Public Order Act, as well as Section 15 of Sokoto State Peace Preservation Law, to impose a curfew within the Sokoto metropolis for the next 24 hours.

He appealed to the people of the state to continue to obey law and order.
“Everyone should, please, in the interest of peace go back home and observe these measures, for the re-establishment of peace, law, and order in the state,” he said.
Meanwhile, the remains of Deborah were yesterday been laid to rest in her hometown, Tunga Magajiya, in the Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
Tears flowed freely as she was being buried around 6:30 pm at the Christian cemetery in Tunga Magaiya.
Tunga Magaiya youths had insisted that Sokoto State Government should have been responsible for her burial.
Her uncle, who is the Pastor of ECWA in Tunga Magajiya, Emmanuel Maaji, led the prayers at the cemetery.

Kukah Suspends Catholic Masses

Also, as part of measures to save the Catholic Church from further attacks, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Hassan-Kukah, has suspended all masses in the Sokoto metropolis.
This was contained in a statement issued on Saturday by the Director of Social Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr. Christopher Omotosho.
Omotosho noted that Kukah’s residence was not attacked though rampaging hoodlums vandalised and torched two of the parishes presided over by the fiery preacher during the protests embarked upon by the Muslim youths.
“During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat were also attacked and a community bus parked within the premises vandalised.
“St. Kevin’s Catholic Church Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction, on the same premises, were shattered.
“They were promptly dispersed by a team of Mobile policemen before they could do further damage.
“The hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”

Kukah commended Tambuwal “for acting promptly by declaring the 24-hour curfew to stem the protests”.
He also commended the security forces for promptly rising to the occasion to prevent further damage to the church’s facilities.
The Bishop said no life was lost in the attacks and noted, “Contrary to information in circulation, we wish to disclaim that there was an attack of any sort on the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Kukah appealed to Christians to remain law-abiding and pray for the return of normalcy.
“All Masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted,” the statement added.

CAN Calls for Nationwide Protests May 22

Meanwhile, CAN has called on all its members to embark on a peaceful protest nationwide.
In a statement issued Saturday by the General Secretary of CAN, Joseph Daramola, the President of the religious body, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, directed all secretariats to stage the protest on Saturday, May 22, 2022.
“I have been directed by the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, to request all Church leaders, through your various Churches to organise a peaceful protest in honour of one of our daughters, Deborah Yakubu, who was gruesomely murdered on Thursday, May 12, 2022, at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto in Sokoto State by some Islamic extremists.

“The protest will take place on May 22, 2022, in the afternoon by 3p.m. in every Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria nationwide and not on the streets to avoid further loss of lives,” Daramola explained.
In a related development, Governor El-Rufai of  Kaduna State has also banned any form of religious protest across the state.

The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, announced the ban in a statement issued Saturday in Kaduna.
He said the ban became imperative “given moves by some unpatriotic elements to organise series of for-and-against protests related to a security development in one of the northern Nigerian states.”
He urged citizens of the state to remain calm as they go about their lawful pursuits and to immediately report any such activity or security concern to the security agencies.

More Condemnations Trail Killing of Deborah

Meanwhile, more condemnations have continued to trail the killing of Deborah.
In its reaction to the gruesome murder, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) expressed outrage over the killing and called on Tambuwal and President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure justice.
In a statement issued on Saturday by ECWA President, Dr Stephen Baba Panya, the church stated that “the brutal killing and burning of Deborah by some misguided Muslim students is nothing short of overt criminality which we at the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) roundly condemn.”

Panya queried the legitimacy of a government that cannot guarantee the security of its citizens, saying: “While our faith in this country is still very strong because we know that there are laws that ought to govern the conduct of all citizens like it is in every civilised clime, we are at a loss which provision under our nation’s jurisprudence permits the brutal, senseless and shameful killing and setting ablaze of a fellow Nigerian by any misguided group, under whatever pretext with no one held accountable.”

ECWA called on Buhari to prevail on the Inspector General of Police and all relevant law enforcement agencies “to ensure that all the perpetrators of this dastardly and despicable act are not only fished out, but that they are brought to justice according to law.”
A former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, has also condemned in the strongest terms, the gruesome and unlawful killing of Deborah.
In a statement he signed, Anyim who is a presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, described the killing as cruel, illegal, callous, and inhuman.

NYSC Urges Corps Members Not to Panic

Meanwhile, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Sokoto State has enjoined the corps members serving in the state not to panic as their safety is guaranteed.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the state Coordinator of NYSC, Alhaji Muhammad Nakamba, urged the corps members to be law-abiding and remain indoors as announced by the government, especially those within the Sokoto metropolis.
He explained that the management of the scheme in the state had contacted all the security agencies to ensure the safety of its corps members throughout the curfew period and beyond.

NBA Rejects Calls to Cancel Sokoto Conference

In another development, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Monday Ubani, has rejected the call by some lawyers to cancel the conference of the NBA-SPIDEL scheduled in Sokoto to protest the killing.
Ubani advised lawyers to be circumspect over the incident.

He maintained that it was preposterous for lawyers to call for the cancellation of the 2022 NBA-SPIDEL Conference in protest against the killing of Deborah, which was carried out by lawbreakers in the state.
According to him, “the barbaric act was not authorised or approved by the state government to our knowledge. The state government has issued a statement condemning the act and requested that the crime perpetrators be brought to book.”
“Having said that, it will be preposterous for someone who is a lawyer to be suggesting that we should cancel our conference that is billed to take place in Sokoto because of the acts of lawbreakers in the state,” he added.

He said he had sent a message to Tambuwal and the Attorney General of Sokoto, requesting a statement that the safety of the lawyers would be guaranteed.
Ubani argued that calling for the cancellation of the Sokoto conference was like asking for conferences billed for Owerri to be cancelled because of the killings of two army personnel – husband and wife – by unknown gunmen or asking for the cancellation of conferences in Abuja because of some of the killings that had taken place there recently.

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