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Protests erupt in Nigerian city after blasphemy killing

May 15, 2022

A Christian student accused of blasphemy was killed by a mob of Muslim students in Sokoto. Protesters took to the streets, demanding the release of the suspects.

Motor bike riders drive past Kofar Kade, a city gate in ancient Sokoto.
Sokoto state governor has ordered a 24-hour curfewImage: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

A curfew has been declared in the Nigerian state of Sokoto following mass protests demanding the release of suspects in the brutal killing of a Christian student accused of blasphemy.

Sokoto state Governor Aminu Tambuwal ordered a 24-hour curfew on Saturday "with immediate effect'' as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in the state capital amid religious tensions.

Deborah Samuel, a student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, was stoned, beaten and burnt by a mob of Muslim students of the college on Thursday for allegedly posting blasphemous statements about the Prophet Muhammad on social media.

Muslim youths take to the streets in protest

Police said they have arrested two people following the incident, adding that a manhunt was underway for other suspects who were seen in footage of the grisly murder which circulated online.

After the arrests, Muslim youths marched on the streets of the northwestern city, lighting bonfires and calling for the release of the suspects early on Saturday.

Some protesters besieged the palace of Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims.

Abubakar had condemned Samuel's murder, demanding that those involved face justice.

The protests also swelled to other areas of the Sokoto metropolis, reports said.

Nigeria — Africa's most populous country— is almost evenly divided between the  largely Christian south and mainly Muslim north.

Bridging the religious divide in Kaduna

Some states in the country have strict Shariah laws that include death sentence for blasphemy.

President denounces the mob killing

The nation has seen several instances of violence in the past in response to actions or comments deemed anti-Islamic.

On Friday, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari denounced the mob killing.

"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," Buhari said in a statement.

dvv/sri (AFP, AP, Reuters)