Abiodun OBA

 

Young adults, in their hundreds, have gathered at city gate, which leads to the Palace of the Sultan of Sokoto, demanding the release of students who were arrested for killing and burning the body of Debora Samuel, a Christian student, who was accused of blasphemy.

On Thursday morning, some students of the college reacted to a voice note reportedly shared by Ms Samuel on her class WhatsApp group.

The voice note, which was rendered in Hausa Language, was interpreted to mean an attack on the Prophet of Islam, Muhammed.

Members of the school authorities and the school security operatives attempted to rescue the deceased but the irate students burnt down the security facility where the late student was being kept.

The police in the state later announced the arrest of two of the suspects.

In a statement, Sanusi Abubakar, the police public relations officer in the state, said other suspects caught in the viral video on Twitter “will soon be nailed too.”

The protesters blocked motorists going in or out of the Kanwuri area, leading to the Sultan’s palace while others took over the road leading to the government house.

They hold placards with various inscriptions including: “Please, release our friends”, “Release and free our brothers, we’re Muslim not terrorists”, “Muslim is not a terrorist” (sic), among others.

A native of Kanwuri Sarki area, Usman Abdullahi, told newsmen over the phone that the protest was originally peaceful but later became violent.

“Because when they passed us sitting there were policemen following them. I learnt the policemen were supposed to stop them from doing anything stupid, but as more policemen came and tried to disperse them, they started throwing stones into the Sultan’s House calling him a hypocrite,” he said.

He added that the youth became angrier and started burning tires on the road.

“You know, if not because of the security men at the Palace, the youth would have gained access into the main entrance because they were many. The policemen and civil defence officers stopped them from getting closer to the gate,” Mr Abdullahi said.

Another group of youth, protesting on the road leading to the government house, have been dispersed by security agents.

The police command spokesperson, Sanusi Abubakar, did not respond to calls and SMS sent to him for more information on the protest.

Meanwhile, the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has declared a 24-hour curfew in the state with immediate effect.

According to a short statement released by the governor and shared on the government’s official Facebook page by his special adviser on media and publicity, Mohammed Bello, the curfew “is in pursuance of peace and order in Sokoto metropolis and the entire state following the death of a second-year student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.”

The new development was confirmed by a member of the media team of the governor, who does not want to be quoted, claiming he was not authorised to do so.

The statement, reads in part; “Following the sad incident that happened at the Shehu Shagari College of Education on Thursday and sequel to the developments within (Sokoto) metropolis this morning till afternoon, by the powers conferred on me by sections 176(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and section 1 and 4 of the Public Order Act; and, also Section 15 of Sokoto State Peace Preservation Law, I hereby declare, with immediate effect, a curfew within (Sokoto) metropolis of Sokoto township for the next 24 hours.

“I appeal to the good people of Sokoto State to kindly continue to observe law and order and calm down (on the) restiveness currently pervading in the metropolis.

“Everyone should, please, in the interest of peace go back home and observe this (these) measures, with a view of the reestablishment of peace, law and order in the state.”

The governor added that it is not in the interest of anyone to have a breakdown of law and order. “I, therefore, appeal for restraint; and, for people to observe and respect the rule of law.”

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