No fewer than 34 lawyers were on the defence team of the two suspects allegedly inviolved in the lynching of 200-Level students of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Deborah Sanuel, as operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, arraigned them in court, yesterday, in Sokoto.
The suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, were docked at a Sokoto Chief Magistrates’ Court for their alleged participation in the crime.
Their arraignment came on a day Governor Aminu Tambuwal of the state lifted the 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis in the aftermath of the protest that trailed the arrest of the two suspects.
The accused persons also pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Leading a team of 34 lawyers, the defence counsel, Mansur Ibrahim, applied for the bail of the accused persons on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The trial judge reserved ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded in custody.
Prosecuting inspector, Khalil Musa, told the court that an investigation was in progress.
Last Thursday, a mob of Muslim extremists killed and burnt the young lady over alleged blasphemy.
Tambuwal relaxes Sokoto curfew
Also, yesterday, Governor Aminu Tambuwal relaxed the 24-hour curfew imposed on Sokoto metropolis on Saturday over breach of peace and violence that followed the murder of Deborah Sanuel.
The curfew will now be from dusk to dawn.
The lifting of the curfew was contained in a statement by the Commissioner for Information, Isa Bajini-Galadanchi. He stated that the relaxation of the curfew followed a briefing by security agencies in the state.
“The review is to enable people go about their legitimate businesses and other means of livelihood,” he added.
The commissioner quoted Tambuwal as advising residents to maintain peace, and warned that government would not condone any breach of the law.
How police fought to save Deborah’s life—CP Okunlola
The state police Commissioner, Kamaldeen Okunlola, yesterday, explained efforts by his men to save the late Deborah Samuel from being killed by her assailants.
Okunola, who spoke with Vanguard on phone, said despite protests that followed the arrest of some suspects over the gruesome murder of Deborah, efforts were in top gear to apprehend the actual perpetrators and bring them to book.
He also stated that policemen were adequately deployed around the school premises when they received information about the riotous situation in the school, adding that his men used minimum force to disperse the mob with dangerous weapons in the school premises.
The CP noted that adequate deployment of policemen and reinforcement from other sister security agencies had been made to ensure peace reigned in the state.
‘’When police heard about the riotous situation on 12/05/2022 at about 0800hrs around the college, proper and adequate deployment of policemen was made around the school premises. The police stood firm to prevent the situation from deteriorating,” he said.
I was a devout Muslim, Quran frowns on killing —Tunde Bakare
Reacting to Deborah’s killing yesterday, the Serving Overseer of The Citadel Global Community Church, formerly known as the Latter Rain Assembly, Tunde Bakare, condemned the killing.
Bakare in a statement issued yesterday, said as a former Muslim, he had read the Quran from ‘cover to cover’, stressing that nowhere in the holy book justified killings.
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“It was with deep distress that I received the news of the gruesome killing of Deborah Samuel in Shehu Shagari College of Education, in Sokoto State. No Nigerian, and indeed, no human being, should be subjected to such inhumanity by fellow humans,” the statement reads.
“As a nation of diverse peoples and cultures, there are available institutional mechanisms for resolving sensitive conflicts and, no matter the provocation, no person under our laws has the right to take laws into their own hands.
“As one who was a devout Muslim and who read the Qur’an from cover to cover, what was done to Deborah Samuel is nowhere justified in the religion of peace that was handed down to me by my grandfather who was the first Chief Imam of Iporo Sodeke Mosque in Abeokuta. My deep condolences go to the family of Deborah Samuel and I pray that we all find in God the comfort and fortitude to bear this great loss.
“When I heard of the unrest that broke out in Sokoto after the arrest of some persons involved in the act, I immediately placed a call to Bishop Matthew Kukah to guarantee that he was safe and he assured me that, contrary to the news making the rounds in some quarters, his residence and the cathedral were not set ablaze.
‘’He further told me that the governor of Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, swiftly intervened and dispatched security men to his residence and cathedral to prevent any mob attack.
“This is commendable and I trust that the institutions of state will be fully deployed to restore law and order, ensure that justice is done and to address the underlying issues that this sad incident has once again brought to the fore.
“I also appeal to the good people of Sokoto State to remember the tolerance and hospitality they have always been known for. As a child, I lived in Sokoto State. When my father travelled up north in the 1950s from Abeokuta in search of a market for his kola-nut produce, he was warmly received by the people of Sokoto State.
“So hospitable were the people that my father settled in Sokoto for a period and invested in cotton farms in Shagari Village. Though he was Yoruba, my father was given the nickname ‘Sanni Arewa’ by the very friendly people of Sokoto. Such unity and tolerance should remain our true identity as a people.”
Meanwhile, Borno State police command, yesterday, foiled attempted protest by some youths over an alleged blasphemous comment made by a girl against prophet Mohammed on her Facebook account.
A lady, identified as Naomi Goni, was said to have made the comment on her Facebook account in reaction to the killing of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto State over blasphemous comment.
The foiled protest in Maiduguri is coming a few days after the Sokoto victim was beaten to death and set ablaze over blasphemous comment she allegedly made on her school WhatsApp platform against Prophet Mohammed.
Vanguard gathered that hundreds of irate youths stormed the 7 Division Garrison at Pompomari bye-pass within the metropolis and burnt tyres close to the entrance of the Garison, where the lady who made the alleged blasphemous comment was believed to be residing , and demanded that the soldiers brought her out, a situation that compelled the Garison Commander to address the protesters and calmed them.
One of the leaders of the protesters who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lady posted the blasphemous remarks against Prophet Mohammed.
He said: ”The lady, Naomi Goni, who posted a remark on her account in response to the killing of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto allegedly said ‘If he is a true God, why can’t he fight for himself.’’
However, the military, in collaboration with the police, dispersed the protesters, while normalcy had since been restored to the city, with heavy security presence in the area to forestall further breach of peace.
Confirming the incident at Police headquarters in Maiduguri, Borno State Commissioner of Police, Abdu Umar, said some youths were sighted with content suspected to be fuel inside jerrycans.
He said because the police were proactive, the youths were arrested, adding that they would be interrogated to ascertain their motive.
While the Commissioner of Police has banned unwanted gathering within the capital city of Maiduguri, residents, especially non-indigenes, are now living in fear of being attacked.