Stoning, Murder of Nigerian Christian Student “criminal, law must take its cause”: Bishop

Late Deborah Yakubu. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto in Nigeria has condemned the killing of a Christian student at her college, noting that the murder is “a criminal act and the law must take its cause”.

In the widely condemned gruesome killing, Deborah Yakubu from Zuru, an Economics student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was stoned to death and burnt by male students at the college who accused her of blasphemy.

Various media accounts indicate that Deborah allegedly had argument with fellow students online and the Muslims among them claimed that she blasphemed 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 Thursday, 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.

In a May 12 statement, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto demands justice for Deborah and calls on authorities to investigate the killing and to bring the perpetrators to book.


“I have received with deep shock the news of the tragedy that has occurred in the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, leading to the gruesome murder of Ms. Deborah Yakubu, a 200 level Home Economics Student today,” Bishop Kukah says.

He adds in reference to the killing, “This has nothing to do with Religion. Christians have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors here in Sokoto over the years. This matter must be treated as a criminal act and the law must take its cause.”

“We condemn this incident in the strongest terms and call on the authorities to investigate this tragedy and ensure that all the culprits are brought to book,” the Local Ordinary of Sokoto further says in his May 12 statement.

He continues, “The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”

The killing has also attracted condemnation from a section of the Muslim community in Nigeria, with the Sokoto Sultanate Council describing the incident as “unjustifiable” and “unfortunate”.

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“The Sultanate Council has learnt with dismay the unfortunate happenings at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, (SSCOE) Sokoto that led to the loss of life of a female student of the Institution,” Sa'idu Muhammadu Maccido, the Secretary of the Council, has been quoted as saying.

He has added, “The Sultanate Council condemned the incident in its totality and has urged the security agencies to bring perpetrators of the unjustifiable incident to justice.”

The Muslim leader has urged the city to remain calm and to ensure “peaceful coexistence among all people of the State and nation.”

The same sentiments are echoed by Bishop Kukah who has also expressed solidarity with Debora’s family.

“I wish to call on all Christians in Sokoto and around to remain calm and to please pray for the repose of the soul of Ms. Deborah. It is the first obligation we owe her,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says, and adds, “May God grant her eternal rest and console her immediate family.”


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.