Lay Catholic Entity in Nigeria Condemns Murder of Student, Attacks on Diocesan Facilities

Members of the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba (KSM) in Nigeria. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The leadership of the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba (KSM) has condemned the stoning to death of Deborah Yakubu and attacks on Catholic Church facilities in Nigeria’s Sokoto Diocese.

In a Monday, May 16 statement, KSM members describe as “unacceptable” acts of violence targeting Christians and the Catholic Church by “Islamic extremists” in Northern Nigeria.

“The Knights and Ladies of the Catholic Order of Knights of St. Mulumba, Nigeria, hereby condemns in totality the gruesome murder of a student, Deborah Yakubu by some violent Islamic extremists on Thursday, 12 May 2022, at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto,” KSM members say in reference to the killing of the Zuru lady from Ribah in Nigeria’s Kebbi State.

They add, “The Order is dismayed and strongly condemns the follow up targeted and unprovoked attacks and vandalism on the Catholic Church by same group protesting the arrest of the barbaric murderers.”

The Order further “bemoans the destruction, vandalism, and carnage visited on the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral and the Bishop Lawton Secretariat on Bello way; the St. Kelvin’s Catholic Church and the New Hospital Complex under construction within the same premises, along the Eastern by-pass; the Bakhita Centre on Aliyu Jodi road; and two community buses razed down.”


Various media accounts have indicated that Deborah, an Economics student at the Sokoto College, allegedly had an argument with fellow students in a WhatsApp group. Muslim students in the group are said to have claimed that she had made blasphemous statements about the Prophet Muhammad.

The argument on WhatsApp reportedly took place during the Muslim month of Ramadan when the College was on break. When they reportedly saw Deborah at College on May 12, all available Muslim male students allegedly surrounded her and started stoning her until she fell. They reportedly made sure she died and subsequently set her body ablaze.

Following the reported arrest of two students in connection with the stoning and murder of Deborah, a section of Muslim youth “led by some adults in the background” took to the streets on May 14 to protest the arrests, the head of the Directorate of Social Communication in the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto said in a statement

In his statement, Fr Christopher Omotosho says confirmed the May 14 attack on various Catholic Church facilities and a 24-hour curfew that had been declared in Nigeria’s Sokoto State. On May 16, it was revised to a dusk to dawn curfew. 

In their May 16 statement, KSM members recall “with great displeasure and pain the several past senseless styled bombings, carnage, destructions, and killings nationwide with particular huge untold losses to the Catholic Church and faith in Nigeria.”

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“The agelong illegal confiscation without compensation, conversion, and mismanagement of erstwhile high standard Catholic schools in Northern Nigeria that contributed immensely to the qualitative education and high caliber human capital development across the country, remains perplexing,” they lament in the statement signed by Supreme Knight, Sir. Dr Charles Mbelede.

They pose, “How can rationality explain this show of love that is consistently repaid by the unfortunate ingratitude in the deliberate and persistent killing and destruction?”

KSM members acknowledge the fact that Islam is a “religion of peace by the informed and knowledgeable Muslim believers across the world.”

“The senseless barbaric murderous and violent acts of vandalism and carnage by violent Islamic extremists in Sokoto, under whatever guise, is not only condemnable but qualifies such elements as uninformed unbelievers (kafir) of Islam,” they say.

They continue, “The Order commiserates with the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah and commends his mature response in his acknowledgement of the quick intervention by the Governor of Sokoto state, H.E. Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and the security agencies in the face of these acts of inhumanity.”


“The swift condemnation of these dastardly acts by the Sultan of Sokoto and spiritual head of Muslims in Nigeria, and his call for the security agencies to bring the perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to book is greatly appreciated,” KSM members add.

They call on the Federal Government “to move beyond mere condemnation” and make certain recommendations.

KSM members invite the government to “appoint a new minister of Interior and the National security adviser with better efficient hands to commence the recovery of Homeland Security in Nigeria.”

They also call for an “overhaul of the leadership of the national security architecture to reflect Federal Character with close sectarian balance with emphasis on excellence to arrest the seeming complicity in the insecurity challenges by these agencies.”

KSM members also urge the government to “commence immediate prosecution of the arrested culprits over the murder of Deborah Yakubu, and the carnage and vandalism of the properties of the Catholic Church in Sokoto and any other affected persons and property.”

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They call for the institution of a “judicial commission of enquiry into the murder of Deborah Yakubu, the carnage and vandalism of the Churches property and all and any others affected in the Sokoto incident, with the view to preventing future recurrence, bringing to book all culprits, and appropriate compensation by government.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.