One year after, cry for justice resonates for Deborah
• HURIWA, cleric lament govt’s inaction • Prime suspects in Deborah’s murder at large, say police
The cry for justice, yesterday, resonated one year after Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a second-year Christian College student, who was killed by a mob of Muslim students after being accused of blasphemy, in Sokoto State, Nigeria.
The deceased, a 200-level student was set ablaze on May 12, 2022, after she reportedly advised her classmates against posting religious contents on their department’s WhatsApp group, which was created for academic purposes.
Videos of Deborah being stoned, beaten with sticks and immolated by some of her Muslim colleagues, which was shared widely on all social media platforms.
Few days after the incident, the police announced the arrest of two suspects: Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, in connection to Deborah’s murder, and they were arraigned on May 16, 2022, at the Sokoto Chief Magistrate Court for their alleged participation in the crime.
However, nothing was heard from the case, after about 34 lawyers led by one Prof. Mansur Ibrahim stormed the court in defence of the suspected killers.
But, a Reverend Father, over the weekend, lamented the Federal Government’s inaction in bringing the perpetrators to justice. The cleric, Fr. Kelvin Ugwu, in an emotional message, lamented that after Deborah’s death, the Federal Government did little to seek justice for her.
He said: “Your body was burnt to ashes by them. Your killers made a video of the whole thing shouting Allahu Akbar (God is the greatest). I am not sure which God they are talking about.
“After your death, there was uproar. The government of your country did not do much to help; they just closed your school for a few weeks and charged some persons to court. One presidential candidate allegedly sponsored lawyers to defend your killers. They arrested some persons for what they called civil unrest. But no single person has been arrested for killing you. No one is in custody. Everyone seemed to have moved on.
“I would have said that you should rest in peace, but what is the use of peace without justice? May your killers and all those who support them never know peace.
“Dear friends, let us honour this lady today. Keep praying for the repose of her soul.”
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State Police Command has said it is still on the trail of prime suspects culpable in the immolation. Spokesperson for the Command, Abubakar Sanusi, said several arrests had been made in connection to Deborah’s death. He said: “We’re still on the trail of some of the prime suspects in connection with the murder. However, we have made arrests, and we’ve charged all the arrested suspects to court since then.
“The case is at the Chief Magistrate Court 1 in Sokoto, and the arraigned suspects were/are remanded at the Nigerian Correctional Service, Sokoto State Correctional Centre since 2022.”
However, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described the stoning to death of Deborah, as a state sponsored terrorism, for her Christian faith.
HURIWA lamented that the Sokoto State government, the State Police Command and the Sokoto State Directorate of the Department of State Services are obviously acting a well-written conspiratorial script to allow the suspected killers to escape justice.
The rights group expressed shock and disappointment that the Christian Association of Nigeria has forgotten about her case and are obviously unconcerned about the brazen injustice being meted out to her family.
National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the Sokoto State government has deliberately delayed the prosecution of any of the arrested suspects and may have released them because there is no known proof that the matter is proceeding at the said Magistrate Court, while suspects haven’t been transferred to a state High Court that has jurisdictions over such a heinous crime of illegal and gruesome public execution of a citizen.
HURIWA accused the Sokoto State government alongside all the security forces of colluding to hide this crime under the carpet of impunity. The group vowed that nobody associated with this injustice would escape public scrutiny all their lives.
“There is no known excuse why it has been one year after Deborah was killed by some extremist Muslim students for alleged blasphemy of the Islamic religion, and yet the Nigeria Police Force is saying that it is still on the trail of prime suspects culpable in the immolation.
“Sokoto State Police Command is speaking from both sides of their mouth if they insist that they couldn’t arrest those killers who were clearly captured on the videos that became viral on the Internet,” the group added.