Violence erupted in some parts of Sokoto metropolis on Saturday when some Muslim youths trooped to the streets to demand the release of the two suspects arrested in connection with the killing and setting ablaze of a 200-level female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Deborah Samuel, over alleged blasphemy.
Following the violence, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, imposed a 24-hour curfew on the metropolis to restore order in the city.
Deborah was on Thursday stoned to death and burnt by her colleagues for making a WhatsApp post on a group platform that allegedly blasphemed Prophet Muhammed (SAW). In the post, the deceased reportedly advised against posting religious materials on a WhatsApp group meant for assignments.
Saturday’s protest, however, led to the vandalism of properties and looting of shops in some parts of the metropolis, with many residents running helter-skelter for safety. The protesters also made an attempt to attack the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, who is the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria and had condemned Deborah’s killing, which many described as barbaric.
The protesting youths, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great), while bearing placards with different inscriptions, started their demonstration peacefully at the Zabira Mall roundabout and marched through Gao-Nama on Maiduguri Road within the metropolis.
However, despite a combined team of security operatives, including soldiers from the 8 Division, police and personnel of the Department of State Services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, monitoring the protests to avert its takeover by hoodlums, there were reports of attacks on some public buildings, including an ECWA Church at Aliyu Jodi and a section of the Catholic Clinic, opposite Vision FM.
At the St Backita Catholic Secretariat in the Aliyu Jodi area of Sokoto, which houses the office of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, the protesting youths burnt the security post and a vehicle on the premises. Kukah later announced in a statement that he was safe and unhurt and that his house was not burnt as rumoured.
He also announced the suspension of Masses across the diocese until the curfew imposed by the state government is lifted.
The statement signed by the Director, Directorate of Social Communications, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev Fr Christopher Omotosho, noted, “ During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises. St Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern Bypass was also attacked and partly burnt.”
Eyewitnesses told Sunday PUNCH that the irate youths stormed the church wielding machetes, stones and sticks. They started throwing stones into the church compound before overpowering the security men at the gate and gaining entrance into the premises. The extent of the damage was unclear as of press time.
One of the eyewitnesses said, “The protesters came en masse. I was across the building opposite the Zenith Bank in Minanata when they began to throw stones into the church. Some of them were attacking traders around the area and burning their wares. They were outraged.
“One of the youth said in Hausa and a very harsh tone that the church wrote an article on its website about Deborah’s murder and called the killers ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’. I called the police as I tried to escape and they told me to leave the place immediately to avoid unforeseen circumstances, so I had to run away.”
The article referenced by one of the protesters was perhaps the statement issued by the Kukah to condemn the killing and ask Christians to pray for the repose of her soul.
Confirming the attack on the secretariat, a senior official of the church, Mr Matthew Otalike, said the protesters gained entry into the building and burnt down a vehicle. He added that they also invaded Kukah’s residence in the building but that the swift arrival of security agents prevented them from torching the residence.
A trader, who gave her name simply as Onyedikachi, said, “They attacked my sister’s shop where she sold foodstuff at the Sokoto Main Market. When I read that some people planned to protest on Saturday, I went there to warn her to close the shop. She was packing her goods when they came in from the back and we all ran away. We were told that they later set some shops ablaze and chased other traders away. In the process, some hoodlums looted shops unrestrained.”
Onyedikachi said she and her sister had fled the state before the curfew was imposed and were on their way to Jos, Plateau State, to join a bus to their state in the South-East.
Another eyewitness said, “Sokoto metropolis is boiling as I speak to you. The police are not doing enough. Even the curfew imposed by the governor didn’t change anything. I advise Christians in Sokoto to run away for their lives in case the violence escalates.”
Electoral Act: Supreme Court Strikes Out Buhari’s Suit Against NASS
The Supreme Court, on Friday, struck out a suit filed against the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari challenging the legality of the controversial section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Apex Court held that Buhari, having assented to the Electoral Bill on February 25, 2022, has no power to turn around to challenge the legality of the Electoral Act.
The Supreme Court, in a judgment prepared and delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, declared the action of Buhari in instituting the case as a gross abuse of court.
The Apex Court said the President by the suit sought to approbate and reprobate at the same time and that such must not be allowed.
Besides, the court held that Buhari has no power under any law to dictate to the National Assembly on law-making.
The unanimous verdict held that Buhari, having participated in the making of the Electoral Act by his assent, lacked Constitutional powers to come up to challenge same.
Lawyer Protests Hijab Ruling, Appears at Supreme Court Dressed in Native Doctor’s Attire
A human rights lawyer, Malcolm Omoirhobo, on Thursday, caused a stir due to his mode of dressing at the Supreme Court in Abuja.
Photos circulated on social media showed Omoirhobo dressed in a lawyer’s robe mixed with other materials that made him look like an African native doctor.
The lawyer had a gourd with cowries around his neck and a feather on his wig.
According to him, he wore the attire to show gratitude to the Supreme Court which had, on Friday, June 17, 2022, granted the use of hijab by female Muslim students in government-owned schools in Lagos.
“That we are free to express our way of worship in our schools and in our courts. That decision was reached on Friday and that has encouraged me.
“Because I am a traditionalist and this is the way I worship. Based on the decision of the Supreme Court, this is how I will be dressing henceforth in court because I am a strong adherent to ‘Olokun’, the god of rivers.”
Reacting, a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Ibadan, Francis Egbokhare, told The PUNCH that the lawyer’s action exposed the ridiculousness that is sometimes associated with law.
He said, “I believe this is just basically sarcasm, as far as I’m concerned, bringing to our attention the ridiculousness sometimes of law when you stretch it out to such an extent.
“For instance, if dress code does not matter, or if you are to modify a dress code, the question is what are the boundaries or limitations, and where do you draw the line?”
Advising the lawyer, Egobkare said, “I think it will be a good thing for him to test it further because this is a comic relief so far. Until he brings it up through the legal process, it may not have any impact beyond just giving us something to laugh about.”
UK Police Arrest Ekweremadu, Wife for Alleged Plan to Harvest Child’s Organs
The United Kingdom Metropolitan Police have formally charged two Nigerians with conspiracy to facilitate the travel of another person for organ harvesting.
The suspects were arrested and charged over their plan to bring a child into the country to allegedly harvest the said child’s organs.
The two arrested suspects were identified as Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, and Ike Ekweremadu, 60, from Nigeria.
The suspects who have been remanded in custody will appear at Uxbridge magistrates court later on Thursday.
They are charged with conspiracy to harvest organs, The Guardian UK reports.
According to the report, the charges involve arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation, namely organ harvesting, the Met said in a statement.
The child involved has been safeguarded, according to the Met.
The investigation was launched after detectives were alerted to potential offences under modern slavery legislation in May 2022, the force said.