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SECURITY personnel yesterday broke up a massive protest by youths in Sokoto who were demanding the immediate release of the suspects arrested in connection with Thursday’s lynching of a female student in the metropolis.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal followed it up with imposition of a 24-hour curfew on the city and a call for calm.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, fearing a spill-over of the Sokoto unrest, placed an immediate ban on protests in his own state.
The body of Deborah Samuel, the victim of the Thursday attack in Sokoto, was laid to rest last night in her home town in Niger State.
Her parents and other relations remained devastated by her death.
The murderers of the Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto student had accused her of blasphemy.
She was mobbed, stoned and clubbed to death, after which her body was set ablaze.
The Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society (NASFAT) Nigeria and the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) yesterday condemned her extra-judicial killing.
Soldiers, policemen and personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS) as well as those of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had confronted the Sokoto youths as they advanced on the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar, to register their grievances.
The security personnel fired canisters of tear gas at the protesters when it appeared their action was getting out of hand.
A combined team of security men led by the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kamaludden Okunlola, stopped the protesters who were throwing stones and trying to burn the palace.
Religious centres were under tight security.
Some of the protesters soon regrouped away from the palace to molest residents but were again dispersed by security patrol teams.
The youths, some of whom carried placards calling for the release of the detained suspects, were shouting “Allahu Akbar”, translated in English as “God is the greatest.”
Others took over the streets, chanting songs and urging security agents to release the arrested persons.
The protesters burnt tyres on Ahmadu Bello Way, Emir Yahaya Road, Kanwuri and other streets, forcing shop owners to close midday while many streets became empty.
Hundreds of security personnel were subsequently deployed across the metropolis.
Bills inviting youths to participate in the protest had been shared overnight in the city.
They were asked to gather at Gawon Mama Roundabout at 9am.
Be calm, Tambuwal tells protesters, residents
Following the tension sparked by the Friday killing, the arrest of two suspects by the police and the protest demanding their release, Governor Tambuwal invoked Sections 176(2) of the Constitution, Sections 1 and 4 of the Public Order Act; and Section 15 of Sokoto State Peace Preservation Law, and imposed a curfew within the Sokoto metropolis for the next 24 hours.”
He appealed to the people to “kindly continue to observe law and order and calm down (on the) restiveness currently pervading in the metropolis.”
Everyone, he said, should “please, in the interest of peace, go back home and observe this measure with a view to the re-establishment of peace, law and order in the state.
“It is not in the interest of anyone for us to have a breakdown of law and order. I, therefore, appeal for restraint and, for people to observe and respect the rule of law.”
Governor Tambuwal met with security chiefs, leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Rev. Nuhu Iliya and Islamic religion leaders on Thursday to prevent the situation from escalating.
El-Rufai bans protests in Kaduna
Moments after curfew was imposed in Sokoto, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai placed a ban on protests related to religious activity throughout the state with immediate effect.
The prohibition, according to Internal Security and Home Affairs Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, “becomes imperative in view of 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 added: “The Kaduna State Government, in consultation with security agencies under the umbrella of the Kaduna State Security Council, has placed a ban on protests related to religious activity throughout the state with immediate effect.
“Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, who has been briefed of the development, has charged security agencies to ensure strict enforcement of this ban against any form of religious protest in the state.
“The Governor also charged religious leaders, community leaders and traditional rulers throughout the state to complement the efforts of government and security agencies towards the maintenance of peace and stability.
“Security agencies have thus resolved that any attempt by individuals or groups to disrupt the peace and stability of the state by way of religious protests will not be condoned. Such protests will be promptly halted and conveners prosecuted.
“Citizens are implored to remain calm as they go about their lawful pursuits, and to immediately report any such activity or security concern to the Kaduna State Security Operations Room on 09034000060 and 08170189999. “
Deborah buried in Niger
The deceased was laid to rest at about 6.30 last night at the Christian Cemetery in her home town of Tunga Magajiya, Rijau Local Government area of Niger State amidst protest by youths in the area that the Sokoto State Government should have taken responsibility for the funeral.
The funeral service was conducted by Deborah’s uncle, Emmanuel Maaji, who is also an Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) pastor in Tunga Magajiya.
The bereaved father was said to have been unconscious since she heard the news on Thursday with her blood pressure shooting up dangerously. Her father has been inconsolable, family sources said.
Maaji said the family wanted the burial done immediately.
He said the parents were not happy with the way the Sokoto State Government handled the matter.
He said: “The government only called and said that it was not right for the family to take the body like that without informing them.
“They said that they shouldn’t bury the body as the body is for the government and not for the family.
“They asked them to put the body in the mortuary.”
It was gathered that Deborah spent much of her life, including attending primary school, in Sokoto.
Extra-judicial killing alien to Islam – NASFAT
An Islamic group, Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society (NASFAT) Nigeria, yesterday condemned the extra-judicial killing of Deborah Samuel by a mob in Sokoto.
The Chief Missioner NASFAT, Imam Abdul Azeez Onike, said in a statement signed by its Publicity Secretary, Mr Abdul Akeem-Yusuf, that the incident was condemnable.
“Religion and all its paraphernalia meant to worship Allah are for man and not man for those,” the group said.
“In the case of any disrespectful act on those religious paraphernalia or on Allah, capital punishment is not the answer but civilly calling the person involved to order by making him or her to understand that he or she committed sacrilege for him to refrain from such, and not to kill.”
He added that jungle justice, becoming rampant in our country, is an act condemnable by all religions.
The cleric urged the law enforcement agents to do a thorough investigation, arrest all culprits and speedily bring justice to bear.
ECWA condemns murder
The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) also condemned the murder of the student.
President of ECWA, the Rev. Stephen Baba-Panya, in a statement in Jos described the incident as sheer criminality and called on the Sokoto State Government to arrest the perpetrators.
Baba-Panya also called on the Federal Government to direct security agencies to ensure that no stone is left unturned towards bringing the culprits to book.
“The brutal murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu by some misguided students is nothing short of overt criminality which we at ECWA roundly condemn,” he said.
”Therefore, we call on the Federal and Sokoto State governments to ensure that justice is not just seem to be done, but it is indeed done,” he said.
Kukah: My Sokoto residence not burnt
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Kukah, last night said he was safe and dismissed social media reports that his residence was set ablaze by protesters.
Some of the social media reports had claimed that Kukah’s residence and church were torched by the rioters.
NBA chief urges restraint over call for cancellation of Sokoto conference
The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) Dr. Monday Ubani, yesterday urged restraints over calls for the cancellation of oncoming NBA-SPIDEL conference scheduled for Sokoto.
The conference, with the theme: Rule of Law and Democratic Evolution in Nigeria, had been scheduled for May 22-26, 2022 before Thursday’s tragic killing of Miss Deborah Samuel in the ancient city.
Following the killing, a prominent human rights lawyer, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, had withdrawn from the proposed conference while Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Onagboruwa, has also called for the relocation of the conference venue from Sokoto to another state in the North.
A few other lawyers have called for the outright cancellation of the conference; a demand Ubani said was uncalled for.
In a statement he issued and personally signed on Saturday, NBA-SPIDEL chairman Ubani urged those calling for the cancellation of the conference to be circumspect.
Ubani said it was preposterous for lawyers to call for the cancellation of the conference as a way of protesting the killing of Miss Deborah Samuel.
The SPIDEL chair observed that it would be unjust to cancel the conference because the gruesome killing was carried out by those he described as law breakers and not the Sokoto State Government.
Ubani said: “The barbaric act was not authorised or approved by the State Government to our knowledge. In fact, the state government has issued a statement condemning the act and requested that the crime perpetrators be brought to book.
“Arrest of two persons has been made and we await the outcome of the process. Gentlemen, let us all be circumspect over the sad Sokoto incident.
“The barbaric killing is condemnable as no individual has any right, under our present jurisprudence, to take life except in accordance with due process.
“Assuming but not conceding that the said lady had committed a written and known crime, the state alone has the requisite power to prosecute and punish the alleged crime. Extra judicial killing is not allowed by our laws.”
Continuing, Ubani said: “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 law breakers in the state.
“I have sent a text (message) to the Governor and the AG (Attorney-General of Sokoto), and requesting for a statement that our safety is guaranteed.
“I am in touch with the President of the Bar, Mr Olumide Akpata, and if there is any need to take a drastic decision about the conference in Sokoto, we will ensure prompt communication to the constituency.
“It is absolutely wrong for our colleagues, without locus, to be calling for boycott of the conference when the state government that is hosting it is not complicit in this heinous crime, unless there is evidence to the contrary.
“It is 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 that we cancel conferences in Abuja because of some of the killings that have taken place there recently.”
Kukah announces suspension of Masses
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, announced yesterday that all Masses in the Sokoto metropolis had been suspended until the curfew imposed by the state government is lifted.
The bishop, in a statement, commended Governor Aminu Tambuwal for acting promptly by declaring the curfew.
Some youths yesterday attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, destroying church glass windows as well as those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat.
Kukah said the irate youths also vandalized a community bus parked in the premises of the secretariat but were dispersed by 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,” he said.
Kukah commended the security agents for responding promptly to the crisis, noting that no life was lost.
He appealed to the Christians population in the city to remain law abiding and pray for the return of normalcy.
CAN demands justice, calls for nationwide protest
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday called its members nationwide to embark on a peaceful protest during which they should demand justice for Deborah.
According to a statement signed by CAN’s General Secretary Joseph Daramola, CAN President, Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, directed all secretariats to stage the protest on Saturday, May 22, 2022.
Titled ‘A Request for Nationwide Peaceful Protests, Calling for Justice for Deborah Yakubu’, the statement urged Nigerians in the diaspora to also stage protests at Nigerian embassies worldwide.
The statement reads: “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 3:00 pm in every Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria nationwide and not on the streets in order to avoid further loss of lives.
“Those without CAN’s Secretariat may use any church with big premises. We are to hold placards with some succinct messages like, ‘We demand Justice 4 Deborah’, ‘No more killing in God’s name’, ‘Enough is Enough’, ‘Police, stop unprovoked killings in Nigeria’, ‘Christians are not second class citizens’, ‘Killers of Deborah must be prosecuted’, ‘We condemn religious killings’, ‘We say no to Islamic extremists’.
“We urge those who could afford it to make use of the traditional media and the social media and others can use only the social media to give it wide coverage in order to sensitise the whole world. We also call on Nigerian Christians in the diaspora to join us using our embassies all over the world. The occasion can also be used to pray for Deborah’s family and friends, peace for the country, victory for the Church and godly political leaders in the coming general election.”