Nigeria: Sokoto announces curfew after student killing protests

Deborah Samuel was beaten and burned by classmates for allegedly blasphemous remarks against the Prophet Muhammad.

The governor of Nigeria’s Sokoto state announced an immediate 24-hour curfew to quell protests calling for the release of the suspect in the killing of student Deborah Samuel.

On Thursday, Samuel was beaten and burned by classmates for allegedly making blasphemous remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in a Whatsapp group.

The protests have erupted after police arrested two students and searched for other suspects who appeared in horrific footage of the murder of Shehu Shagari College of Education student Samuel, which was circulated on social media.

The governor said in a statement Saturday that the curfew applies to the state capital city of Sokoto.

“Everyone should go home for the sake of peace,” Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said.

Hundreds of people demonstrated in the city earlier in the day to protest the arrest of students following the murder, residents said.

Early in the morning, despite the deployment of police to maintain order, young people took to the streets, lit bonfires, and demanded the release of the two detainees, residents said.

Some protesters besieged Mohammad Saad Abubakar’s palace, as Sokoto’s sultan and the highest spiritual figure among Nigerian Muslims condemned the killing and demanded justice for those involved.

Nigeria map showing Sokoto state [Al Jazeera]

“It was more like a riot by a group of young men and women demanding the release of the two arrested for the killing of Christian students,” Sokoto resident Ibrahim Akira told AFP.

“The crowd… also demanded that the police stop pursuing those identified as being involved in the killing,” said Akira, who witnessed the protests.

Bube Ando, ​​a resident near the palace, said a large number of protesters besieged Abu Bakar Palace, adding that the police first tried to ask the protesters to leave.

“Police and soldiers standing outside the palace threw tear gas canisters into the air and successfully dispersed the crowd,” he said, without elaborating whether anyone was injured.

Another resident, Faruk Danhili, said protesters retreated to the city centre where they tried to loot shops belonging to Christian residents, but were again dispersed by security patrols.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari strongly condemned the killing of the student.

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