The stoning to death of a Christian student in Nigeria has sparked widespread outrage and condemnation.
It was alleged that Deborah Samuel, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto State had made “derogatory comments” against Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, on a WhatsApp platform she shared with other students.
Deborah was stoned and clubbed to death on the morning of 12 May on college premises. Her body was then set on fire.
Fearing for her safety after the disagreement with Muslim students on the WhatsApp group, Deborah sought shelter in a secure room on campus while some friends arranged a taxi to take her to the police station.
A mob of Muslims, however, made up of students and young men from outside the college, broke into the room and dragged her away. College security personnel called on the police for assistance but they were unable to overpower the mob.
The college has been closed indefinitely pending the police investigation.
Two arrests were made in connection with Deborah’s murder later on 12 May, sparking unrest in Sokoto, with shops looted and churches attacked. Police confronted protesters who stormed the Sultan of Sokoto’s palace to demand the suspects’ release. The Sokoto State government imposed a 24-hour curfew in the state on 14 May.
On 16 May the suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, appeared at Sokoto Chief Magistrates’ Court. They both pleaded not guilty.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has announced the staging of a peaceful nationwide protest in response to the murder of Deborah.
CAN’s General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, said in a circular released on 14 May that “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”.
Deborah’s remains were laid to rest in her home town, Tungan Magajiya in Niger State, on the evening of 14 May. Her father personally brought back her remains from Sokoto.