“It was Jesus”, WhatsApp Testimony of Nigerian Student that Allegedly Angered Killers

Deborah Yakubu (center) and some of the suspects involved in her death. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A WhatsApp comment in which Deborah Yakubu testified that Jesus Christ had helped her to perform well in her examination is said to have irked her killers who found the mention of Jesus in the group offensive.

A Facebook user who claims to have been Deborah’s course mate at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, said that a heavy exchange ensued as the students talked about an examination they were preparing for.

“It all started with a debate on the upcoming examination on a general WhatsApp platform created for our course mates. One of the students asked her (Deborah) how she passed the last semester’s examination and in response, she said ‘it was Jesus o’,” the student who identified himself as Remi Isaac said in the Sunday, May 15 Facebook post.

Remi added, “Immediately, about three other chats came in from two Muslims and one Christian, telling her to retract the statement.”

The student explained that two students from other departments who overheard some Muslim boys discussing the matter told Deborah’s close friends to advise her to retract the statement. But Deborah is said to have stood her ground, and replied through a voice message, saying, “Holy Ghost fire. Nothing will happen to me.”


Various media accounts have indicated that Muslims among the students that Deborah had the argument with on WhatsApp 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 saw Deborah at College on May 12, all available Muslim male students surrounded her and started stoning her until she fell. They reportedly made sure she died and subsequently set her body ablaze.

“We were made to understand that some young men were brought from outside before the outrage. I was in class when some of our course mates rushed in, saying ‘there is fire on the mountain o,’” Remi said in the Facebook post in which he narrated the events that preceded Deborah’s killing at the Sokoto College.

Sr. Esther Nkiru Ezedinachi who runs “Feeding Christ Through Them”, a program for mentally challenged people who have been left homeless owing to activities of Islamist militants in Nigeria told ACI Africa that Deborah’s gruesome killing had brought sorrow to Christians in Nigeria.

Sharing Remi’s message with ACI Africa, Sr. Nkiru said Deborah’s murder was “unbelievable.”

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“Our hearts are full of sorrow. Tears are on all faces. (These are) Muslim versus Christian attacks. We wait for the government’s reaction,” the member of the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus (HHCJ) in Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Ekwulobia said.

In a May 16 reflection, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Catholic Diocese of Oyo admitted that he was deeply angered by the stoning to death and burning of the Christian Economics student.

“I am outraged,” Bishop Badejo said in his reflection, and added, “I am just as incensed as any sane Nigerian over the dastardly killing in Sokoto of Deborah Yakubu, a Zuru lady from Ribah in Kebbi State, because she allegedly expressed an opinion which some youths found offensive.”

The Nigerian Catholic Bishop described the murder of Deborah as “a barbaric crime against human life and decency” and offered prayers for the repose of her soul.

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.