A legal team of 34 lawyers, led by a law lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Mansur Ibrahim, yesterday, appeared in defence of two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, arraigned over the murder of Deborah Yakubu.
The 200-level female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was stoned to death and burnt last Thursday for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
The court appearance came as Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, relaxed a 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis as a result of protest by irate Muslim youths opposing prosecution of the murder suspects.
In Nasarawa State, the governor, Abdullahi Sule, appealed to the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) not to join a planned protest by the Christian community across the country against Deborah’s killing. Sule made the call at the state’s security council meeting at Government House, Lafia. He said it was to prevent a possible hijack of the protest by hoodlums.
However, the Southern and Middle Belt Alliance (SaMBA), yesterday, demanded accelerated prosecution of those involved in the murder of the late Deborah. SaMBA also berated the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for what they described as a “level of insensitivity not fitting for a president.” That was after Atiku, a presidential aspirant, allegedly deleted his tweet condemning Deborah’s murder following threats by some fanatics to deny him their votes at the forthcoming elections.
The suspects, Aliyu and Hukunci, also students of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, who appeared before a Sokoto Chief Magistrate’s Court, under tight security, over their alleged involvement in Deborah’s murder, pleaded not guilty to the crime.
In the First Information Report (FIR), Prosecuting Police Officer, Inspector Khalil Musa, told the court that the suspects were accused of participating in disturbance act that led to the death of Deborah last Thursday.
When the charges were read, the accused pleaded not guilty.
Ibrahim applied for bail on behalf of the accused persons and urged the court to grant the accused persons bail on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The trial judge (name withheld for security reasons) reserved ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at the correctional centre, Sokoto.
The bloody students’ unrest was caused by an alleged blasphemy by the deceased student against the Islamic religion through a social media group. The students, in mob outrage, had traced the female student, killing her and burning her corpse at the school’s security gate after overpowering the college security personnel.
In a move to avert a major religious crisis over the killing of the female student, Tambuwal had, last weekend, declared a 24-hour curfew in Sokoto metropolis. The curfew came as the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, suspended all masses in Sokoto metropolis, but clarified that his residence was not attacked.
The curfew in Sokoto followed protests by some Islamic faithful that greeted the condemnation of the killing by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III.
CAN had at the weekend called on all its members to embark on peaceful protests nationwide on May 22, 2022.
The remains of Deborah were laid to rest at the weekend in her home town, Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
Tambuwal Relaxes Curfew in Sokoto, Preaches Peace
Tambuwal, yesterday, relaxed the 24 hours curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis as a result of protests by the irate Muslim youths in the state. In a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Isa Bajini Galadanchi, the governor said the relaxation of the restriction of movement was sequel to a briefing by the security chiefs in the state.
Tambuwal explained that the revised curfew would now be from dusk to dawn in Sokoto Township. This, he said, was to afford people the window to pursue their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood.
The government, however, advised people to maintain peace, stressing that it would not condone any breach of law and order in the state.