Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Alfred Adewale Martins has condemned in very strong terms the killing of Miss Deborah Yakubu in Sokoto State by a mob, he described as ‘overzealous students’, over alleged blasphemy.
The late Deborah, a 200-level student of the institution was beaten to death and her corpse burnt on Thursday by a mob comprising fellow students and locals of the town, for allegedly making an alleged blasphemous statement on a WhatsApp group of her classmates.
Reacting to the Thursday incident, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos charged the law enforcement agencies to quickly swing into action to investigate the matter to identify the culprits and bring them to justice according to the Nigerian criminal law.
Archbishop Martins said that the alleged killing of Miss Yakubu, a student of Economics at the Shehu Shagari College of Education (SSCOED) ‘is appalling, provocative, and inhuman.’
According to the Archbishop, ‘such acts, if not checked forthwith are capable of further exacerbating religious tension, thereby causing disaffection amongst the peace-loving people of Nigeria.’
In a statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu, the Archbishop, while condoling with the family of the deceased student and the good people of Sokoto State and indeed all Nigerians of goodwill, also prayed for the repose of the soul of the deceased whose life was cut short in her prime.
“I feel very saddened by the callous manner Deborah Yakubu’s life was cut short in her prime by a bloodthirsty jungle justice mob. It shows how little the value that some people place on human life. This act once again attests to the fact that much still needs to be done in this country for us to appreciate the fact that every human life is sacred and invaluable, something to be nurtured and never trivialized. “When you murder a fellow human being on an allegation of blasphemy you have not only committed murder but have sown the seed of hatred, suspicion and triggered corresponding negative emotions that could snowball into a deep crisis.
“No one has a right to arbitrarily shed human blood. It is not in our constitution; it is not in our customs or tradition. Such an act is archaic and reprehensible and should be expunged totally from our DNA. All those found culpable in this killing must be made to face the consequences and we must all ensure that justice is seen to be done,” said Archbishop Martins.
The Archbishop also called on all Nigerians to be calm and to shun all acts of violence ‘as we all await the action of the Security Agents in dealing with this heinous act of criminality irrespective of the motive behind it.’
Riots broke out in parts of Sokoto as Muslim youth protesting the arrest by police of some alleged perpetrators of the mob killing of a female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education (SSCOED), Thursday, the cleric, on Saturday, forced Governor Aminu Tambuwal to declare a 24-hour curfew in the state to restore peace.
The rioters caused massive damage on selected worship centres belonging to both the Catholic and ECWA churches. Also, the St Bahkita, which serves as the secretariat of the Sokoto Catholic diocese, was set alight by the hoodlums.
State Governor Aminu Tambuwal had, early Saturday, imposed a curfew over Sokoto to curb further spread of violence amid a mob rampage for the release of Deborah Samuel’s murder suspects.
The governor said the directive was issued “in pursuance of peace and order in Sokoto metropolis and the entire state.”
Already, remains of the slain Miss Deborah were, Saturday, laid to rest at her hometown in Tungan Magajiya in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
The deceased, it was gathered, had been living with family members in Sokoto since she was in primary school before her death.
It was also learnt that while the body of Deborah was being transported home for burial, an official of the Sokoto State Government allegedly called that the body be returned back as it belongs to the government.
The government had asked the family to deposit the deceased in the mortuary until burial arrangements are concluded.
However, the parents disagreed with the government’s position, while insisting that their daughter’s body would be buried today.
Reacting, the Pastor of the family in charge of 1st ECWA in Tunga Magajiya, Pastor Emmanuel Maaji explained that the family is insisting that their daughter be buried today (Saturday) as against the state government’s position to wait until it completes its own arrangement.
According to him, the parents are not happy with the way and matter the government is handling the issue.
The late Deborah is survived, among others, by her grief-stricken father and a mother who is said to be still unconscious, having fallen into shock from the news of the killing of her daughter.