• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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In memoriam: Deborah Samuel, family’s hope lynched for alleged blasphemy

The dastardly and divisive Sokoto episode

The death of Deborah Samuel is still stirring emotions. The 200-level home economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto was accused of blasphemy.

On Thursday, May 12, 2022, Deborah Samuel, also known as Deborah Yakubu, was lynched by a mob in her school for purportedly blaspheming the Prophet.

Deborah was the second of seven children. While Deborah was attending the college of education, some of her siblings had to stay home as the family’s funds wouldn’t be enough to see them all through school simultaneously. The deceased’s parents are now crushed as hopes rested on the 19-year-old is dashed.

Emerging details about her life show she was 19 years old (2003-2022). She had been living with an uncle since she was in primary school and had taken his name, ‘Samuel’, instead of her father’s name ‘Garba’.

Had death not cut short her life on Thursday, she would have finished at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in the 2023/2024 academic session.

Her father, Emmanuel Garba is a security personnel with the Niger State Water Works Corporation at Tungan-Magajiya, and her mother, Alheri Emmanuel was admitted to the hospital after hearing of her daughter’s death.

One of Deborah’s coursemates said the deceased had been asked on the class WhatsApp group how she passed the last semester’s examination and she had attributed the success to Jesus.

Read also: Deborah’s siblings, parents, may move to PH via OPM offer

According to that coursemate, Deborah was asked to recant her statement when she sent in the voice note that had caused an uproar. The voice recording by Deborah began with, “Holy Ghost fire. Nothing will happen to me…”

The killing turned a classroom argument into a country-wide interreligious and intertribal debate. Deborah had pleaded with her assailants, asking what they hoped to achieve in the event that she died, eyewitnesses reported.

In the wake of the killing, Matthew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto diocese said: “The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students, and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”

Emmanuel Garba, father of the deceased, told journalists that he paid a total of N120,000 to transport Deborah’s body as many drivers refused to transport her because of the condition of her remains.

Deborah Samuel was buried on the evening of Saturday at the Christian cemetery in her hometown, Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau local government area of Niger State.