Murder Of Deborah Samuel In Sokoto Barbaric—Afenifere 

… Laments Depraved Level To Which Nigeria Has Sunk  

… Calls For Severe Punishment For Perpetrators 

The pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has condemned in very strong terms, the unprovoked and unwarranted killing of a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, Miss Deborah Samuel, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 by her school colleagues for alleged blasphemy.

The condemnation was contained in a Release signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the organisation, Comrade Jare Ajayi.

Report has it that Deborah, a Level Two student was dragged out of the college’s security post where she was hiding from her assailants, stoned to death and then set on fire in a very barbaric manner. Reports indicated that the late student had cautioned those who posted what she considered as ‘useless information’ on a Whatsapp Group platform created basically to share information about their studies. The report made it known that Deborah reacted to a post asking its reader to repost otherwise evil will befall the reader (who fails to repost it). 

Deborah, in a voice note, had said:  

“Send us important information. This group was not created for you to send useless information. It was created for you to send past questions if there is a test or an assignment. It is not for you to send useless information. Which prophet?”

Her fellow students shared the voice note. And this was what set an uproar in motion. Sokoto State Police Command spokesman, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, confirmed that enraged students “forcefully removed the victim (Deborah Samuel) from the security room where she was hidden by the school authorities, killed her and burnt the building.”  The students did not stop at that. According to the police PRO, they later “banded together with miscreants and barricaded the Sokoto/Jega road.”

Afenifere stated that the above reports indicated that the victim did nothing wrong in reminding her colleagues that the Whatsapp platform was meant for information like “past questions if there is a test or an assignment”. 

Ordinarily, this should be taken as a welcome reminder for those who are truly in school to learn. 

It was said that her voice note ended with a phrase ‘Which prophet?’ – a phrase which putatively set in a motion a chain of reaction that led to her death, the burning down of the building in which she was hiding, opprobrium on the school, another tar on religion extremists and a bad name for Nigeria! It is worthy of note that no name of any prophet was in her voice note. But by being a Christian in a presumably Muslim-dominated environment, it was assumed that the phrase was referring to Prophet Muhammed (s.a.w). 

Placed within the context, her reminder of what the platform was meant for should earn her a praise rather than an attack that even cost her her life in a most dastardly and an animalistic manner. This goes to show the kind of youth being bred now and the kind of education youths in many of our educational institutions are imbibing these days. 

Assuming, without conceding that she actually blasphemed the Prophet (which we are not endorsing), terminating her life was certainly NOT the merited sanction. The Holy Quran Chapter 5 verse 151 clearly forbids the taken of another person’s life unless proper legal processes have been followed. On the proposition that Deborah was killed by being a Christian, the same Quran in Chapter 2 verse 256, clearly states that nobody should be forced to embrace the religion, Islam (or any other religion for that matter. Specifically, it states: “There is no compulsion in religion, the right direction is clearly distinguished from the wrong” in recognition of the fact that Faith is a personal issue between the individual and his or her creator. And that, in any case, it is the Almighty God who really knows and determines those who are worshipping Him truthfully, as the Quran, Bible and African Traditional Beliefs clearly attest. 

The Bible in the following chapters and verses is unambiguous in forbidden murder: Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.” Exodus 21:12 “Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.” While Leviticus in 24:17-22 asserts that “whoever kills another person must be put to death.”

It is therefore a highly disturbing thing that ‘students’ who profess either of the major faiths could act in a manner that was clearly against what the scriptures enjoin.

The Yoruba organization recalled that actions bordering on religion intolerance have been occurring so much particularly in the north. It observed that the failure of the state to take drastic actions against the perpetrators of such act was what was making it to happen often and again. 

“This Deborah Tragedy must be used as cue to put a permanent stop to faith-induced murder in our land” Ajayi urged the authorities. 

Afenifere applauded Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal for terminating his meeting in Abuja and rushed to Sokoto over the incident. The organization commended this example to President Muhammadu Buhari in the handling of matters that have the air of national disaster – many of which have happened and are still happening in our country, unfortunately. Among those that can be cited were the Abuja-Kaduna rail attack, ambush of soldiers in different parts of the north as well as the sacking of communities particularly in the north and the south east. 

Ajayi, however, called on the authorities to go beyond platitudes by ensuring that all the perpetrators of the evil act are brought to book. And to take measures to prevent a re-occurrence of such incidents in our midst. 

He also advised parents, guardians, religious and community leaders to let it be known that no-one can ‘fight for God’ in such a bestial manner. “The best one could do is to preach, evangelize and spread the gospel and not to coerce or kill for the purpose of forcing others to embrace one’s own religion.”

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