Explainer: What Is Happening In Sokoto?

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On Thursday 12th of May 2022, a video surfaced on the internet, revealing the gruesome manner in which Deborah Yakubu, a 200 level student of Economics at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was murdered. She was accused of blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammed and was beaten to death by students of the college, who set her corpse on fire afterwards.

What happened? 

In a voice recording being circulated, Deborah complained about the continuous posting of religious content in the groupchat created for her class on WhatsApp. The voice note, which was sent in Hausa is loosely translated to “This group was not created to send useless information but to send past questions if there is a test or an assignment. It is not for you to send useless information. Which prophet?”

On Thursday morning, an angry mob of students marched to Deborah’s hostel and dragged her out. She was beaten and stoned to death and her murders prepared to set her corpse ablaze, throwing tyres on her body while continuing to hit her with sticks. The video was posted online by her brazen killers who could be heard chanting “Allahu Akbar,” as they committed the heinous crime. In the video, one particular man holding a pack of matches boldly declared that he was responsible for setting Deborah Yakubu ablaze, while others celebrated in the background as her corpse burned. 

What are the implications? 

The management of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto has indefinitely closed down the school due to Deborah’s murder. In a circular dated 12th May, 2022, the management made the announcement which was to take effect immediately.

The circular reads: “Following today’s early morning Students rampage in the College, the College Management has resolved to close down the College indefinitely with immediate effect. Consequently, all students are hereby directed to vacate the College campus immediately (12th may, 2022).”

The DC Operations led a team of policemen and operational commanders in the state to the school upon receiving the information. They managed to bring the situation under control and arrest two students in connection with the crime. 

In a statement released by the Police Public Relations Officer, for the Commissioner of Police, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, he appealed to members of the public to go about their lawful activities saying, “The Commissioner of Police, Sokoto State Command, Kamaldeen Kola Okunlola, is appealing to members of the public to go about their lawful activities and should not panic as the situation is under control. Meanwhile, the suspects in the viral video on Twitter were also spotted and will be nailed soon.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first incident of lynching due to blasphemy. In 1995, Gideon Akaluka was beheaded by a group of nine Wahabists for allegedly desecrating the Qur’an. Gideon, who was a young Igbo trader, was arrested after his wife allegedly used pages of the Qur’an as toilet paper to clean up her baby. After Gideon was locked up by the police, a group of extremists broke into his jail, beheaded him, and paraded his head around the streets of Kano. 

In 2007, Christianah Oluwasesin was murdered by secondary school students in Gombe who accused her of desecrating the Qur’an. Christianah was an exam invigilator who noticed the students cheating during a paper. She snatched the material from them, which happened to be Qur’an and paid with her life.

In 2016, 74-year-old Bridget Agbahime, a kitchen utensils trader was attacked and killed at Kofar Wambai Market in Kano by a Muslim mob who accused her of blasphemy. According to reports, Bridget pleaded with a Muslim man not to perform ablution in front of her shop. Six weeks later, her murderers were freed, with Kano State Government giving no substantial explanation for its action. 

Deborah Yakubu’s murder has sparked the expected outrage within progressive circles. It is unfortunate that today, barbaric killings continue under the guise of blasphemy. Her death, like all other unnecessary deaths in the name of religion, raise the question of when these uniformed killings in the name of a God will come to an end.

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