Thirty-four (34) lawyers led by Prof. Mansur Ibrahim today stood in line to defend arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, at a Sokoto Chief Magistrate’s Court over the lynching of Deborah Samuel on May 12.
When asked to take their pleas, the suspects pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Prosecuting Inspector, Khalil Musa told the court that an investigation was in progress as Deborah’s body was still in a morgue at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.
Prof. Ibrahim applied for the bail of the suspects on liberal terms, citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The trial judge, however, reserved the ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at a correctional centre.
A mob of Muslim extremists comprising colleagues and co-students of the deceased, waylaid and eventually burned Deborah Samuel over alleged blasphemy.
Before she was lynched, Samuel, the 200-Level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was accused of denigrating Islam and Prophet Mohammed on a school WhatsApp chat platform set up by her coursemates.
Police, Sokoto Command, arrested the two suspects and in reaction, a group of youths stormed the streets in Sokoto asking for their release. The protest reportedly included targeted attacks on Igbo investments in the state.
On social media
Conversations on religious extremism, ethnicity, tribalism, and a divided Nigeria have come up again and become even more intense this time. This is as misinformation and stereotypes have filled the conversations, and old, unrelated visual content shared to back up the current one.
Also, the stories of what happened have been told and retold by different people, but without backup visual content from the chat on WhatsApp.
Alheri Emmanuel, the mother of Deborah, has vowed never to allow any of her remaining seven children go to school again to avoid the fate that befell her promising daughter.
Alheri, according to Vanguard, declared: “What has happened to me is my cross and I will surely carry it but non of my seven surviving children will go to school again.”
On what she wanted from the government, she simply said, “I don’t want anything from government. In fact, the family is not expecting anything from government. Almighty God will take control.”
Meanwhile, Deborah’s father, Emmanuel Garba, declared that as a good Christian, he and the family had resolved not to seek any redress from court over the loss of their daughter but leave everything to God.
He said, “Besides receiving the shock over the gruesome death of my daughter, I had another bitter experience to go and personally transport her corpse from Sokoto to Niger. It was the saddest moment of my life to go and pick up the corpse of my daughter and brought her home in a chartered bus, for which I paid 120,000 naira.
“I pleaded at the hospital that since the corpse had been burnt, they should help me with the remains, so it doesn’t decompose completely for us to bury her.
“I also pleaded with the DSS and they agreed to release her remains to me after signing some documents. Which moment can be as sad as this in one’s life? However, it is all over and it has become history.”
‘What do you hope to achieve with this?’ were Deborah’s last words, and we really need the killers to answer the question.