On May 12, 2022, Sokoto State Police in northern Nigeria announced that they’d apprehended two suspects for the murder of Deborah Samuel after a riot started against her where a mob beat her to death and burned her body.
Samuel and the two suspects are students from Shehu Shagari College of Education. Samuel was targeted for sharing an audio file on WhatsApp that allegedly contained blasphemous statements against the Prophet Mohammed.
A police spokesperson explained, “There is a WhatsApp group being used by the students, and one of the Muslim students posted an Islamic piece. She criticized the posting.”
Security was present during the incident and tried to defend her, but they were overwhelmed when students began through sticks and stones at them.
They hunted Deborah Samuel till death so disheartening not even one could save her #Arewa #Churches #Sokoto #DeborahSamuel pic.twitter.com/Xv77ueaiO3
— Peter Iyamah (@iam_peteriyamah) May 14, 2022
Footage of the gruesome event went viral and was then taken down. It shows her lifeless body before and after being burned. The perpetrators can be heard yelling “Allah-hu-Akbar” while her body burns.
Amnesty International condemns the horrific lynching of a female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto on alleged blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed on 12 May 2022. Nigerian authorities must ensure those responsible for her death are immediately arrested.
— Amnesty International Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) May 12, 2022
The college is closed indefinitely. The school’s website is inaccessible as of the writing of this article.
The weekend after the killing saw huge protests, but the protesters were not concerned for the victim; rather, they demanded that the killers go free.
For his part, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and Nigeria’s highest Muslim spiritual leader, condemned the killing and called for all identifiable attackers to face justice. In response, some protesters surrounded the palace. The mob there was eventually dispersed with tear gas.
Nigeria’s President Buhari joined the Sultan in his condemnation. “No person Has the right to take the law in his or her own hands in this country. Violence has and never will solve any problem”, he said.