Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a level-two student of Shehu Shagari College Education, Sokoto, was killed on Thursday May 12th, 2022 at Sokoto for allegedly “making blasphemous statements about Prophet Muhammad (SAW). She pleaded for mercy and called out for help before she died. Deborah was flogged, killed, and burnt. A debate on the upcoming examination on a general WhatsApp platform created for Deborah and her coursemates led to her tragic death. According to a report from one of Deborah’s coursemates, ‘one of the students asked her (Deborah) how she passed the last semester’s examination and in response, she said it was ‘Jesus o.’ The source said, “Immediately, about three other chats came in from two Muslims and one Christian, telling her to retract the statement. Deborah’s insistence not to retract her statement, ‘it was “Jesus o,” led to her gruesome death. Men were brought outside the school before the outrage and ‘the mob overpowered everyone who tried to save her.’ The Nigerian Police reported that ‘the students forcefully removed the victim (Deborah) from the security room where she was hidden by the school authority, killed her and burnt the building.’

The graphic picture of Deborah’s gruesome murder resonates with the murder of Christiana Oluwatoyin Oluwasesin in 2007 in Gandu, Gombe State. She was employed by the state after her NYSC. Christina, was murdered at Government Day Secondary School, Gandu, Gombe State. She who doubled as Discipline Mistress of the school was killed by her students on Wednesday, March 21, 2007. The day she was killed was to be her last day in the school because had served the state Teaching Service Commission notice of her resignation in order ‘to join her husband at Abeokuta. But this wasn’t to be as her husband later came to collect her badly burnt remains and two hapless kids, Victoria, 7, and Emmanuel, 4.’ According to Michael, Christiana’s husband who recounted the event in tears said, “That day, Wednesday, she was invigilating Senior Secondary students sitting for Islamic Religious Studies examination. One of the students (name withheld) said she had a copy of the Qur’an in her school bag, which my wife took away before the exams started. The girl began crying that the Qur’an had been desecrated. Her bag wasn’t the only one collected and kept in front of the class by my wife. With this, other students started shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great)! When the uproar continued, the school Principal, the head boy and other teachers escorted my wife to the Principal’s office.

From there, hell broke loose. The students and outsiders, who joined, tied her up, beat and tortured her. One of the students later took a knife and slit her throat. They cut her into pieces and set what was left on fire. They burnt her car also and almost killed my son, Emmanuel. He was only 10-months old then. A nice woman hid him in her long gown and saved his life.”

What followed was a legal logjam. Michael explained that ‘the Federal High Court, Gombe, refused to handle the case, saying the state does not have enough security to maintain law and order during the trial. Assisted by a non-governmental organisation and human rights campaigner, Macedonian Initiative, Oluwasesin and his children dragged the state government to the Federal High Court, Yola, in neighbouring Adamawa State. The suit is still pending in the court.’ The question is, 15 years after, what is the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) doing about this? Are they bold enough to take a stand on Deborah case? Today, Christiana’s husband is under death treat by different callers asking him to stop the case about the death of his wife. What is the assurance that the same fate is not awaiting Deborah’s family?