Outrage has continued to trail the killing of a Christian female student, Miss Deborah Samuel by a mob in Sokoto on Thursday over alleged blasphemy with the British Government and the Christian Association of Nigeria joining the calls on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a probe into the incident even as Muslim clerics expressed divergent views on the justification for the killing.

Deborah Samuel, a 200-level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was on Thursday said to have made a comment in her school’s WhatsApp platform which her Muslim colleagues considered blasphemous of Prophet Mohammed (SAW) and killed her before setting her corpse ablaze.

What led to the killing

One of the students of the college, who witnessed how Deborah was flogged, killed, and burnt described the scene as the most horrible she has ever witnessed. The student who identified herself simply as Rakia, gave an account of how the voice note of the 25-year-old student degenerated into an uncontrollable situation.

Speaking from her parents’ home in Gidan Kaya area of Sokoto State, the visibly shaken student said, “Deborah was my course mate. I just stepped into the class when the uproar on her voice note started.

It was her own course mates that started it. One of them said Deborah dared them by refusing to apologise when she was asked to. It all started with a debate on the upcoming examination on a general WhatsApp platform created for our course mates. One of the students asked her how she passed the last semester’s examination and in response, she said it was ‘Jesus o.’

“Immediately, about three other chats came in from two Muslims and one Christian, telling her to retract the statement. Two students from other departments who over heard some Muslim boys discussing the matter told Deborah’s close friends to prevail on her to retract the statement. But she replied via a voice note on the platform ‘Holy Ghost fire. Nothing will happen to me.

Is it by force that you guys will always be sending this religious stuff in this group? The group wasn’t created for that but rather as a notice on test, assignment, exam, etc, not this nonsense religious posts’

“We were made to understand that some young men were brought from outside before the outrage. I was in class when some of our course mates rushed in, saying ‘there is fire on the mountain o’.

“The Muslim students led the strangers to the class to look for her. In fear, those in the class tried to help her escape and took her to the security post from where they hoped to create a way for her to run outside Already, a cab was waiting outside to drive her straight to the police station. Unfortunately, the mob overpowered everyone who tried to save her. They even threatened to kill anyone who attempted to stand in their way.

Her last word as she pleaded for mercy

She was dragged out, flogged and stoned. The last word in her mouth was ‘what do you hope to achieve with this?’ By then some of our coursemates were making calls to some of our lecturers to save the situation. At a point, all the Christian students fled the school premises. It was when I got home that I heard she was set ablaze. Since the incident, I have been having a flash of her pleading expression. She pleaded for mercy and called out for help but it was far from her. What a cruel way to die,” she said.

Another Muslim student who did not want her name in print kicked against the mob action on the late Deborah. She said, “what happened did not warrant her death. We are calling on the government to make a policy that kicks against attack on anyone accused of blasphemy”.

Enough is enough— CAN

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has condemned as gruesome the killing of Deborah and called on the Federal Government to investigate the murder and “swiftly bring perpetrators to justice”.

A statement on Friday entitled ‘Deborah’s Killers Must Be Brought To Book’ in Abuja, by CAN’s General Secretary, Joseph Bade Daramola, described killing for any God as ungodly, satanic, foolish, reprehensible and totally unacceptable. He warned the government and the security agencies against treating perpetrators of such dastardly act with kid gloves.

Daramola said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) condemns in strong terms the gruesome murder of a Christian, 200-Level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Deborah Samuel by some extremist fellow students on alleged blasphemy. The unlawful and dastardly action of the perpetrators must not only be condemned by all right thinking people but the security operatives must fish them out, prosecute them as it is expected of them.

“It is the failure of the security agencies and the government to rise up to such criminalities in the past that gave birth to terrorists and bandits. And as long as the State fails to bring these beasts and criminals amidst us to book, so also the society will continue to be their killing fields.

“We acknowledge the swift reaction of His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III who not only condemned the criminal and religious intolerant action but called on the security agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice. It is our expectation that the State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, would ensure that the matter is not swept under the carpet, as it was before.

“Killing for any God in the name of blasphemy is ungodly, satanic, foolish, reprehensible and totally unacceptable. This is not a Stone Age and Nigeria is not a Banana Republic. Nigeria remains a non-religious State where no religion is supreme to the other.

“We acknowledge and commend the restraint of the Christian students of the College who refused to embrace self-help and reprisal attacks on those who murdered their colleague. It is our prayers that those vampires in religious garments will not push the country to a religious war. This is why both the government and the security agencies must stop treating them with kid gloves. Enough is enough”.

It shows level of depravity in Nigeria — Afenifere

The pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, also condemned the killing in very strong terms.

Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi. recalled that actions bordering on religious intolerance have been occurring so much, particularly in the north.

The Yoruba body observed that the failure of the state to take drastic actions against the perpetrators of such acts was encouraging it to happen often and again.

It said: “This Deborah tragedy must be used to put a permanent stop to faith-induced murder in our land.”

British Govt calls for justice

Also reacting, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, condemned the killing of Deborah Samuel. In a tweet on Friday, Laing said the authorities must ensure that the perpetrators of the act are brought to justice.

“I condemn the murder of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto, and urge the police and relevant authorities to ensure the perpetrators of this horrific act are made to face justice in line with the law,” she wrote.

The case must not be swept under the carpet —Northern Christian Elders

Similarly, the Northern States Christian Elders Forum (NOSCEF) has tasked the government to bring the killers of Deborah Samuel to book. NOSCEF in a statement signed by its Chairman, Engineer Ejoga Oyinehi Inalegwu, urged the government to “make a public example and make a new statement by quickly bringing the perpetrators to book”.

According to the elders, “NOSCEF condemned the brutal murder of the young girl, Debora Samuel, who was innocently expressing herself on a class group chat by a mob instigated from within her classmates.

The death of Deborah Samuel is one too many by mobs wearing a cloak of religion in the North. In a country where there is a law, nobody, group or individuals has a right to take another’s life whatsoever, outside the due process of law”.

The group welcomed the condemnations across the board but expressed the hope that “this will not be the usual rhetoric of condemnations and then the case is swept under the carpet with publicized arrests, no prosecution or jaundiced prosecution and letting off the hook when the outcries die down.

The group urged the authorities “to commit themselves to stamp out these brutalities that have no value for life before they completely consume the entire North in particular and Nigeria as a nation if Nigeria is not dismembered as a result.”

It’s barbaric, uncivilized, criminal—Force Public Relations Officer

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumiyiwa Adejobi, also frowned against the jungle justice treatment, describing it as uncalled for. Adejobi tweeted, “The act is barbaric, uncivilized and criminal.

The Commissioner of Police in Sokoto state, Mr Kamaldeen Okunlola has been directed to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter, arrest the culprits in connection with the heinous crime and prosecute them accordingly.

We believe that in this modern day, we should have adopted civilised approaches to address issues of this nature, not the gruesome killing of a fellow citizen. We assure the general public that justice will be done”.

On his part, the Sokoto State Police Public Relations Officer ASP Sanusi Abubakar disclosed that one of the alleged killers, who was holding a box of matches in a viral video, had been identified and would soon be arrested. This is just as two persons have been arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of the 25-year-old student.

Buhari orders probe

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday strongly condemned the resort to self-help by the mob in Sokoto, resulting in violence, destruction and the killing of Deborah Samuel.

President Buhari said the news of the killing of the young lady by fellow students was a matter of concern and demanded an impartial, extensive probe into all that happened before and during the incident.

The President in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu “noted that Muslims all over the world demand respect for the Holy Prophets, including Isah (Alaihissalaam, Jesus Christ) and Muhammad (SAW). But where transgressions occur, as alleged to be the case in this instance, the law does not allow anyone to take matters into their hands.

“Moreover, religious leaders preach that it is not for the believer to judge the actions of another person. The constituted authority must be allowed to deal with such matters when they arise. No person has the right to take the law in his or her own hands in this country. Violence has and never will solve any problem,” said the President.

Extra-judicial punishment is alien to Islam, says Sheikh Onike of Nasfat

The Chief Missioner of Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih (NASFAT), Imam Abdul-Azeez Onike has said that the reported extra-judicial killing of Deborah was unacceptable in Islam. He narrated an incident that happened in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammed (SAW) when someone urinated in the mosque in the presence of Prophet Muhammed and his companions were enraged and wanted to stop him. According to him,

The Companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Stop, stop, but the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Don’t interrupt him; leave him alone. They left him alone, and when he finished urinating, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) called him and said to him: These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an, or Allah’s Messenger said something like that.

He (the narrator) said that he (the Holy Prophet) then gave orders to one of the people who brought a bucket of water and poured it over.” Onike then said, “can you imagine what would be the reactions of some people if they see someone ignorantly or deliberately urinating inside a mosque?”

He, therefore, advised against reprisal attack and unnecessary maligning of a particular tribe or religion, since jungle justice, which is fast becoming rampant in our country is a condemnable act by all religions and sensible people while urging the law enforcement agents to do a thorough investigation, arrest all culprits and speedily bring justice to bear.

Abuja Chief Imam justifies killing

Chief Imam of the Abuja National Mosque, Prof. Ibrahim Maqari, in his reaction however justified the dastardly murder of Deborah Samuel, saying she crossed the red line. Prof Maqari in justifying the murder on his Twitter page also warned about the grievous consequences that await those who also cross the red line.

He said: “It should be known to everyone that we the Muslims have some red lines beyond which MUST NOT be crossed. The dignity of the Prophet (PBUH) is at the forefront of the red lines. If our grievances are not properly addressed, then you should not be criticized for addressing them ourselves,” said a statement posted on the imam’s Twitter account.

Muslims don’t tolerate insult against their prophet —Sokoto govt official, Sani

Like Prof Maqari, a government official of Sokoto State, Anas Mohammad Sani, also justified the murder, saying Muslims don’t tolerate insult against their beloved prophet.

He said: “Muslims don’t take insults against beloved prophet in whatever form,” he warned. According to him, the Shehu Shagari College of Education student was brutally murdered because of her reckless comments regarding the Islamic faith.

Justifying the gruesome murder of the female Christian student, Mr Sani said, “The earlier our Christian brothers and sisters understand this, the better for all of us. May the recklessness of our tongues never drive us to (an) early grave.”

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