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Nigeria’s Bishop Kukah Calls for Calm Following Carnage Over Blasphemy Claim, By Justine John Dyikuk

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The gruesome murder and burning of a young female student, Deborah Yakubu within he premises of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and subsequent arrest of two suspects in connection with the incident has led to protests from Muslim youths who have burnt and destroyed Churches in the metropolis.

The Director, Directorate of Social Communication, Sokoto Diocese, Reverend Father Christopher Omotosho confirmed that “during the protests, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attached the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral, at Bello Way, destroying Church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawson Secretariat and vandalises a community bus parked within the premises.”

According  him, “St. Kevin’s Gidan Dare, Eastern Bypass was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital under construction, in the same premises were shattered.”

Fr. Omotosho further disclosed that “the hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliu Jodi road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”

Meanwhile, Christian Association of Nigeria, the nation’s apex Christian Body has directed all Secretariats to stage a peaceful protest, demanding justice for Deborah Yakubu.

In a statement signed by CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, on Saturday, 14 May, 2022, CAN President, Reverend Dr. Samson Ayokunle, urged all Nigerians in the diaspora to also stage protests at Nigerian embassies worldwide to call attention of the international community to weigh in on the matter.

The statement titled, “A Request for Nationwide Peaceful Protests, Calling for Justice for Deborah Yakubu” directed all secretariats to stage the protest on Saturday, May 22, 2022.

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According to the statement, “I have been directed by the CAN President, His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, to request all Church Leaders, through your various Churches to organise a peaceful protest in honour of one of our daughters, Deborah Yakubu, who was gruesomely murdered on Thursday, May 12, 2022, at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto in Sokoto State by some Islamic extremists.

“The protest will take place on May 22, 2022, in the afternoon by 3:00 pm in every Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria nationwide and not on the streets in order to avoid further loss of lives.

In part, it also read, “Those without CAN’s Secretariat may use any church with big premises. We are to hold placards with some succinct messages like, ‘WE DEMAND JUSTICE 4 DEBORAH’, ‘NO MORE KILLING IN GOD’S NAME’, ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH’, ‘POLICE, STOP UNPROVOKED KILLINGS IN NIGERIA’, ‘CHRISTIANS ARE NOT SECOND CLASS CITIZENS’, ‘KILLERS OF DEBORAH MUST BE PROSECUTED’, ‘WE CONDEMN RELIGIOUS KILLINGS’, ‘WE SAY NO TO ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS.’

“We urge those who could afford it to make use of the traditional media and the social media and others can use only the social media to give it wide coverage in order to sensitise the whole world. We also call on Nigerian Christians in the diaspora to join us using our embassies all over the world. The occasion can also be used to pray for Deborah’s family and friends, peace for the country, victory for the Church and godly political leaders in the coming general election.”

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The Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal has declared a 24-hour curfew to stem the protests.

In his reaction, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah “commended the governor – for acting promply by declaring the 24-hour curfew to stem the protests” and deploying security forces to promptly “prevent further damge at our facilities.”

Bishop Kukah who said “in all, no life was lost” instructed that “all Masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted, also appealed “to Christians to remain law abiding and pray for the return of normalcy.”

The slain student was buried on Saturday 14 May 2022 in her hometown,Tunga Magajiya, in Rijau local government area of Niger State admist tears.

Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria. Email: justinejohndyikuk@gmail.com. Mobile: 08036232232. 

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