Yesterday, May 12, a group of male Muslim students brutally attacked and killed a female Christian student from Shehu Shagari College of Education in Wamako, Sokoto State Nigeria.
The female student, Deborah Samual Yakubu, a Home Economics student, apparently reacted to peers posting religious (Islamic) information on a school Whatsapp group chat created to discuss academic matters. What exactly she said has not been confirmed. Witnesses refused to repeat to media the alleged “blasphemous” word she used in the voice note she posted. However, sources told OD that she commented, “Jesus Christ is the greatest, He helped me pass my Exams”. We have been unable to confirm this claim.
Muslim students took offense and threatened Deborah. According to The Guardian, she was immediately evacuated, but a group of male students took her from personnel. They proceeded to hit and stone her until she was unconscious, thereafter setting her body on fire.
Videos on social media showed men stoning and flogging the motionless body of Deborah Samuel. Some footage also captured a raging fire as a man faced the camera, claiming that he killed and burnt her.
The attack caused severe unrest causing the college to “close down with immediate affect… all students are hereby directed to vacate the College campus immediately,” according to a press release circling online. According to the police the students banded together and barricaded the Sokoto/Jega road.
In a statement signed by the spokesperson, Sanusi Abubakar, the police said they have arrested two persons in connection with the killing.
Sokoto in northeast is one of Nigeria’s 12 sharia-governed states. The Sultanate Council of Sokoto also published a press release saying it “condemned the incident in its totality and has urged the security agencies to bring perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to justice.”
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto has expressed sadness over the killing of a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto State. He stated that, “the only obligation that is owed late Deborah’s immediate family, her fellow students and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of the inhuman act, no matter their motivation are punished according to the extant laws of the land.”
Jo Newhouse, spokesperson for Open Doors’ operational work in Sub Saharan Africa commented, “This is another tragic day for Northern Nigeria’s Christians. We join Deborah’s family and the wider Christian community in mourning her death. We condemn in the strongest terms possible this vicious act and call on authorities to take swift action to identify the perpetrators and bring them to book.”
Deborah is originally from the village of Tungan Makajiya, Rijau, Kebbi state. Her father’s exact age is unknown at this stage. Rumours circulated that upon hearing the news, Deborah’s mother collapsed and since remains in hospital, the information we have yet to confirm. Deborah was a member of the Fellowship of Christian students, a sister organization to the Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students.
We are working on getting more details and updating this report once we know more.
Open Doors wants to highlight the request for prayer, especially for restraint among all, as incidents like these have sparked cycles of violence in the past.
- Pray for Deborah’s family and friends as they are faced with this difficult news. May they experience God’s presence and rely on Him to be their rock and refuge in this time.
- Pray that the men responsible for her death will be brought to justice and that no further attacks will occur between Christian and Muslim students.
- Please pray for restraint among all, as incidents like these have sparked cycles of violence in the past.