14th May, 2022
By Nehru Odeh
An eye witness, who identified herself as Rakia, has given a detailed account of how Deborah Samuel was flogged, killed and burnt at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto on Thursday 12 May.
Rakia, who spoke from her parent’s home, was visibly shaken as she said: “Deborah was my course mate. I just stepped into the class when the uproar on her voice note started. It was her own course mates that started it. One of them said Deborah dared them by refusing to apologise when she was asked to. 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 how she passed the last semester’s examination and in response, she said it was ‘Jesus o.’
“Immediately, about three other chats came in from two Muslims and one Christian, telling her to retract the statement. Two students from other departments who over heard some Muslim boys discussing the matter told Deborah’s close friends to prevail on her to retract the statement. But she replied via a voice note on the platform ‘Holy Ghost fire. Nothing will happen to me.
‘Is it by force that you guys will always be sending this religious stuff in this group? The group wasn’t created for that but rather as a notice on test, assignment, exam, etc, not this nonsense religious posts’
“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’.
“The Muslim students led the strangers to the class to look for her. In fear, those in the class tried to help her escape and took her to the security post from where they hoped to create a way for her to run outside. Already, a cab was waiting outside to drive her straight to the police station. Unfortunately, the mob overpowered everyone who tried to save her. They even threatened to kill anyone who attempted to stand in their way.
Deborah’s last words
“She was dragged out, flogged and stoned. The last word in her mouth was ‘what do you hope to achieve with this?’ By then some of our coursemates were making calls to some of our lecturers to save the situation. At a point, all the Christian students fled the school premises. It was when I got home that I heard she was set ablaze. Since the incident, I have been having a flash of her pleading expression. She pleaded for mercy and called out for help but it was far from her. What a cruel way to die,” she said.
“Another Muslim student who did not want her name in print kicked against the mob action on the late Deborah. She said, “what happened did not warrant her death. We are calling on the government to make a policy that kicks against attack on anyone accused of blasphemy”.