Christian Entity “welcomes” UN Experts' Letter on May 2022 Lynching of Nigerian Student

A photo of Deborah Emmanuel on her Facebook page. Emmanuel, a Christian student in Nigeria, was killed by an Islamic mob on her college campus on May 12, 2022. | CNA

The Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has welcomed the Letter of Allegation, which five United Nations (UN) Special Procedure mandate holders sent to the government of Nigeria regarding the public lynching of Deborah Emmanuel.

In an October 27 report, CSW lauds the UN experts’ statement on the May 2022 murder of Deborah, and the subsequent detention of Rhoda Jatau.

Deborah was an Economics student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto. She was stoned to death and burned by male students at the school; they accused her of blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad.

Meanwhile, Rhoda is a Christian mother who shared a video denouncing Ms. Emmanuel's murder, was charged with blasphemy, inciting a mob, and exciting contempt of religious creed at a High Court in Nigeria’s Bauchi State in December 2022.

The CSW report provides the background of the UN experts’ statement that is dated August 4. It states, “The Letter of Allegation, also known as a communication, was sent to the Nigerian authorities in August, but was published on 26 October, after the government failed to respond within the required 60-day deadline.”


The CSW report further cites the UN experts’ letter, in which the express "utter concern at the lynching and burning alive of Ms. Emmanuel; the apparent negligence of the police prosecution and the lack of accountability for the perpetrators of her murder." 

“We are also concerned at the arrest and detention of Ms. Jatau, accused of ‘blasphemy’, who has been imprisoned for over a year for what appears to be her mere peaceful exercise of her right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief,” the UN experts say in their letter that the CSW report references.

In the October 27 report, CSW UN officer, Claire Denman, says the Christian human rights entity "welcomes the Letter of Allegation from the five Special Procedures, including their findings of police negligence and lack of accountability, among other violations and abuses." 

"We commend their robust questioning of the government of Nigeria on the circumstances surrounding Deborah Emmanuel’s brutal death and the unjust detention of Mrs Jatau for peacefully exercising her fundamental rights," Ms. Denman says.

She adds, “We continue to extend our deepest condolences to Ms Emmanuel’s family, and to urge both state and federal authorities to prioritize the arrest and prosecution of Ms Emmanuel’s murderers."

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Ms. Denman goes on to call on Nigerian authorities to release Mrs. Jatau "unconditionally, and to end the impunity currently enjoyed by those who weaponize religion to justify the taking of innocent lives."

The CSW official further urges President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government to repeal blasphemy laws in Africa’s most populous nation. 

"It is incompatible with the country’s constitutional and international obligations, and is a driver of religious extremism and violence, which in turn critically undermines social cohesion," the CSW UN officer is quoted as saying in the October 27 report.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.