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Deborah: Northern governors condemn killing, call for calm

By Habeeb Hazeez (Sokoto), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Seye Olumide, Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan), Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze and Sodiq Omolaoye (Abuja)
16 May 2022   |   3:56 am
Though it took days to come, the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) has condemned the killing of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State...

Parents of the late Deborah, Emmanuel Garba (right) and Alheri at their hometown, Tungan Magajiya in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State… yesterday.

Sokoto schools to remain shut
• Deborah’s parents: We can’t say anything, we have left all to God
• Police deny report identifying the suspected killer as a foreigner
• Ohanaeze Ndigbo, OPC, and others condemn the destruction of Igbo property, charge northern leaders to halt Sokoto mayhem
• Blasphemy: Withdraw from Inter-Religious Council, northern CAN tell Christian leaders
• TEKAN demands justice for slain Deborah Samuel

Though it took days to come, the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) has condemned the killing of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State, on allegations of blasphemy.

While calling for calm, the chairman of the forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a statement, yesterday, expressed the governor’s concern about the development, which was clearly an extrajudicial measure of addressing perceived infractions.

Deborah, a second-year student of Home Economics, was killed on Thursday following an allegation that she had blasphemed the Prophet of Islam. The victim was stoned to death and her body burnt by a mob of Muslim students after she made a post they deemed insulted Prophet Muhammad.

Her body was buried on Saturday evening in her hometown, Tungar Magajiya, Rijau Council of Niger State. Her death has sparked outrage from various individuals and groups across the country, including the Christian community, who demanded that her killers be brought to justice.

Lalong frowned at the adoption of self-help in addressing grievances, whether religious or otherwise, which he observed could only lead to further chaos that could threaten law and order as well as the general peace and security of the society.

The NGF, while commiserating with the family of the victim, urged security agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that the law takes its full course on anyone found wanting or culpable in the circumstance.

In the aftermath of the 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis on Saturday, normalcy yesterday gradually returned to the city ravaged by violent protests at the weekend.

The curfew, announced in a statewide broadcast by Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, was to stem the violent protest sparked by a procession along major streets, demanding the release of the two suspects Sokoto Police Command claimed are in their custody, with regards to the gruesome killing.

Our correspondent who drove round the metropolis observed deserted roads by motorists in compliance with the curfew while shops and business premises were under lock. Security personnel were seen at major roundabouts within the metropolis.

In a related development, the state police command refuted the allegation that a top police source in the command has categorised one of the suspects during the incident as a foreign intruder from the Niger Republic, who came in illegally to perpetrate the act.

The command’s spokesman, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, in a statement, said, “the fabricated publication, which claimed its sources from the command, is falsehood and cannot be substantiated.

“The command did not issue any statement or sign any release in that regard. The publication is an act by some mischievous makers trying to create chaos in the mind of law-abiding citizens and to destabilise the existing peaceful atmosphere restored as a result of the Thursday incident.

“The Commissioner of Police, CP Kamaldeen Kola Okunlola, enjoined Sokoto residents to embrace compliance with the curfew emplaced by the government to maintain peace and order in the state.”

MEANWHILE, the Sokoto State government has announced the suspension of the resumption of basic and secondary schools in the state by one week. Schools were supposed to resume yesterday and today, for boarding and day students.

The suspension was announced via a statement by Ibrahim Iya, spokesperson of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, yesterday, in Sokoto. It said that the suspension was a sequel to the 24-hour curfew declared by the government.

It added that the Commissioner of Basic and Secondary Education, Bello Guiwa, directed all public and private schools to resume on May 22, for boarding and May 23, for day students.

“However, final year students who are supposed to begin their West African Examination Council (WAEC) examination on Monday, May 16, are not affected. Parents, teachers and Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) are expected to comply with the directive please,” it added.

Also, corps members serving in Sokoto, especially those in the Sokoto metropolis, have been advised to remain at home due to the 24-hour curfew. This was contained in another statement from the spokesperson of the scheme in the state, Sani Idris, yesterday,

It said that the management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had contacted all the security agencies to ensure the safety of its corps members throughout the curfew period and beyond.

“Arrangements have also been made for the police and army patrol vehicles to intensify surveillance in all of the corps members’ locations. Management urged corps members to remain calm and law-abiding at all times and also assured them that things would soon return to normalcy in the state,” the statement added.

PARENTS of the deceased have described the death of their daughter as sad and painful, saying they have left her killers to God. Reacting to the death of their daughter, the bereaved parents said they have nothing to say or do regarding the loss of their child, but have decided to leave everything in the hands of God.

Speaking with newsmen, yesterday, the father, Mr. Emmanuel Garba, security personnel with Niger State Water Works Cooperation, said: “We can’t say or do anything, except to take it easy as an act of God. We have left all to God, we have decided to take it like that.”

On who brought back the body of his deceased daughter from Sokoto, he explained that he personally went and brought back Deborah’s body to be buried.

“I personally went and brought back the body of my daughter to enable me to bury my own child. This is because keeping her in the morgue will not return her back.

“When I got there, I met government officials and made them understand the need to allow me to take her back home and they agreed with me. When we got to the morgue, those in charge asked me to sign the necessary documents and I did. They released the body to me.

“I personally paid the sum of N120,000 to the driver out of many that refused to convey her back home and it is because of the condition of the body. Most drivers we approached all refused except one.”

Also, the mother of the deceased, Mrs. Alheri Emmanuel, told newsmen that Deborah was the second of seven children, adding that it was so sad to have lost her at such a young age, when they were relying on her to help support them in the future.

On her medical condition, she said she is stable now and discharged from the hospital, where she was admitted upon hearing the news of the gruesome murder of her daughter.

Amid tears, Mrs. Emmanuel said: “I have nothing to say, I am grateful to God and for your efforts. I have given God my heart and may God strengthen me. We have nothing to say.
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“Because of what happened to me, I will no longer send my children to schools where so much money is involved. Because of her education, the education of some of her siblings suffered, as it is so difficult to care for them all at the same time. And, now things are difficult for us.”

THE Fellowship of Churches of Christ in Nigeria, known in the Hausa language as Tarayyar Ekklesiyoyin Kristi a Nijeria (TEKAN), consisting of over 15 denominations, has demanded justice for Deborah. TEKAN, in a statement in Jos, by its president, Rev. Caleb S. Ahima and General Secretary, Rev. Moses J. Ebuga, said the dastardly act must not be tolerated.

“We condemn this inhuman act in totality and in the strongest terms possible. We call on the Nigerian authorities to act decisively to bring those who committed this criminal act to face the full wrath of the law regardless of whoever is involved.

“The perpetrators should be dealt with to serve as a deterrent for future occurrence. We call on our members not to take laws into their hands but allow the authorities to act swiftly and appropriately,” the church said.

APEX Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has also condemned in very strong terms, the unwarranted destruction of Igbo property and business outfits during the protest by Muslim faithful in Sokoto at the weekend.

In a statement on Sunday evening by the National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze wondered about the nexus between the Igbo traders and Miss Deborah, an indigene of Niger State, to warrant the destruction of Igbo properties.

The statement, tagged ‘Why again the Igbo?’, added: “Ohanaeze watched the clip with intense curiosity, the background of the killing and burning of Miss Samuel at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto and could not in any way fathom any iota of Igbo connection to the incident.

“An Igbo neither interfered nor was an accessory in the said blasphemy. The question on every lip all over the world is, ‘why again the Igbo’?

“It is very unfortunate that at any time there is any form of misconception or crisis in the North, it often ends with a mob that goes against the Igbo commercial and residential interests. For instance, in February 2016, there was a cartoon about Prophet Muhammad by the Danish newspaper in faraway Denmark, which generated an international uproar.

“The uproar took an inexplicable barbaric dimension in Maiduguri, where over 50 people, identified as Christians were killed, mostly of Igbo ethnic group and many of their properties were either destroyed or damaged by rioting Muslims. Perhaps, this is why Prof. George Obiozor, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, prophetically lamented that the insecurity of the Igbo people in Nigeria has reached a dangerous level of existential threat, saying Igbo are the most vulnerable and victims of violence throughout Nigeria.”

While commending Tambuwal for the timely intervention, it urged the governor to ensure that all those that were involved in the destruction of Igbo property are brought to book. It also called on the governor to mitigate the losses incurred by the Igbo traders in Sokoto over what they knew not.

YORUBA militant body, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), yesterday, also called on the Federal Government and Northern leaders to intervene and halt with immediate effect the ongoing ethnoreligious violence in Sokoto and other Northern states.

The group, in a statement issued by its president, Otunba Wasiu Afolabi, said it is expedient for the Federal Government to guarantee the safety of lives and businesses of Southerners in the North following the mayhem in Sokoto last week.

The group also demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution by police and security authorities of religious leaders who fuelled the crisis by directly mobilising rioters and making inflammatory statements, following the killing of Deborah.

Recalling that former President Olusegun Obasanjo once declared that security agencies should shoot-on-sight members of OPC and other self-determination groups for no justifiable reason, Afolabi wondered why President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to read the riot act to rampaging rioters in the North now maiming, killing and looting with reckless abandon.

Also, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams, has warned those fanning the ember of war to desist from acts that are capable of fueling the ethnic and religious war in Nigeria. Adams insisted that the Southwest would resist any attempt that could trigger a crisis and disturb the peace in the region.

Condemning the gruesome murder of Deborah, Adams, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Kehinde Aderemi, expressed sadness at the incident, even as he stated that the culprits should be apprehended and made to face the wrath of the law.

The Yoruba generalissimo also blamed the state government for allowing such sensitive issues to degenerate into a full-blown crisis, where churches and other places of worship were razed by irate youths and extremists. He bemoaned the act in its totality, maintaining that such could also jeopardise the fragile unity of the nation.

THE Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern states and Abuja, has urged Christian leaders to terminate their participation in Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) until their counterparts of Islamic faith show commitment to tame their followers on equal terms.

The Public Relations Officer of CAN (19 Northern States and Abuja), Chaplain Jechonia Gilbert, in a statement on Sunday, also directed Christian parents across the nation, especially Northern states to discourage sending their children to any school in Sokoto.

According to him, this will continue, pending when the Federal and state governments are ready and willing to secure the lives of children, both in Sokoto and other states that are allegedly hostile to Christians and Christianity.