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Mayhem in Sokoto over Deborah’s murder

By Omiko Awa (Lagos), Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna), Habeeb Hazeez (Sokoto) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
15 May 2022   |   4:31 am
Violence broke out in some parts of Sokoto State yesterday as protesters, mostly Muslim faithful, took to the streets to protest the arrest of suspects involved in the killing and burning of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, on Thursday, over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

PHOTO: Newscentral.africa

• Protesters Demand Release Of Suspected Killers
• Gov Tambuwal Declares 24-hour Curfew To Douse Protests
• Yakubu Buried In Hometown
• Kukah Sues For Peace

Violence broke out in some parts of Sokoto State yesterday as protesters, mostly Muslim faithful, took to the streets to protest the arrest of suspects involved in the killing and burning of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, on Thursday, over alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed (SAW).

Until her untimely death, Yakubu was a 200-level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, in Sokoto. And the Sokoto Police Command had arrested two suspects involvement in the crime.

The protesters took over parts of the state especially the capital, Sokoto, shouting different slogans, wielding different weapons and carrying placards with inscriptions, “Release Our Muslim brothers,” and “Muslims Are Not Terrorists,” among others.

In the course of the protests, several properties, including church buildings, were attacked and destroyed. The protesters reportedly attacked the Catholic Secretariat, churches and business outfits of non-Muslims.

Attempts by the protesters to attack the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, were rebuffed by security men. The grouse of the protesters, The Guardian gathered, was the Sultan’s condemnation of the dastard killing of the late Yakubu.

Ahead of the protest, security personnel had been stationed at strategic parts of the state, including the Sultan of Sokoto Palace.

Unperturbed by the presence of security personnel, the protesters, in large numbers, stormed Ahmadu Bello Way Church Line, where Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, ECWA and a Cherubim and Seraphim Church are located.

Attempts by the protesters to set the St. Mary Catholic Church ablaze, was rebuffed by armed personnel drafted to the area, who fired several canisters of teargas to disperse the protesters. The irate protesters, however, succeeded in burning down a car opposite the church.

Following the protests, Governor Aminu Tambuwal declared a 24-hour curfew in Sokoto city with immediate effect to curtail further spread of the unrest.

Tambuwal, in a state broadcast, said the curfew became necessary following processions across Sokoto metropolis, over the detention of two suspects by the police.

He appealed to the good people of the state to continue to observe law and order.

“Everyone should, please, in the interest of peace, go back home and observe the curfew, with a view of the reestablishment of peace, law and order in the state,” he said.

With demonstrators demanding the suspects’ release, major streets such as Ahmadu Bello Way, Kano Road, where banks are located and Emir Yahaya Road, were deserted in the early hours of the day with business places and shops under lock.

Governor Tambuwal had to cancel his trip to Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states in continuation of his presidential consultations to consult with opinion moulders and religious leaders in the state on how to ensure that the murder of Yakubu will not elicit violent reprisals.

Meanwhile, The Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Church, Mathew Hassan Kukah has appealed to Christians in the state to be calm amidst the protests and destruction of properties by hoodlums.

In a statement by the Bishop, he noted that during the protest, groups of youths, led by some adults in the background, attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, destroying glass windows in the church, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat, and vandalised a community bus parked within the premises.

“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. They torched St. Kevin’s Catholic Church in Sokoto.”

Kukah commended Governor 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 of facilities.”

The Bishop appealed to Christians to remain law abiding and pray for the return of normalcy,” adding that “all masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted.”

However, there has been an outburst of condemnation across the country by political, socio-cultural and religious groups, including Muslim leaders over the killing, saying those involved should be made to face the law.

An association, Yoruba Youth Socio-cultural Association (YYSA) Worldwide, yesterday, decried the mayhem in Sokoto state.

In a statement by its National President, Olalekan Hammed and National Secretary, Olawale Ajao, the group described as malicious, the burning of churches and other properties by youths protesting the arrest of suspected killers of Deborah Yakubu.

Meanwhile, Yakubu’s remains were, yesterday laid to rest in her hometown, Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau Local Council of Niger State.

Her burial was witnessed by well-wishers and relations, who expressed sadness over the loss of one of them. She was committed to mother earth at about 6:30 pm at the Christian cemetery in Tunga Magaiya.

Youths in the town allegedly protested that her burial ought to have been carried out by the Sokoto State government, but her family insisted on carrying out the exercise, where an uncle of the departed, a pastor of ECWA church led the prayers.