Hundreds of people protested in Nigeria’s northwestern city of Sokoto on Saturday for the arrest of two students following the murder of a Christian student accused of blasphemy.
Africa’s most populous country is roughly divided between Muslims and Christians, but religious tensions and deadly conflicts are not uncommon, especially in the north.
Deborah Samuel, a student of Shehu Shagri College of Education, was stoned to death on Thursday and her body was burnt to death by a mob of Muslim students at the college after she posted something on social media that they considered an insult to Prophet Muhammad. Was.
Police said they have made two arrests after the incident and have started searching for other suspects who appeared in footage of the gruesome murder that was circulated on social media.
In the early hours of Saturday, Muslim youths took to the streets of the city, lighting bonfires and demanding the release of the two detained suspects, while police officers were deployed earlier, residents said.
Some protesters surrounded the palace of Muhammad Saad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto and the highest spiritual figure among Muslims in Nigeria, who condemned the killing and demanded that those involved face justice.
“It was a riot by a mob of young men and women demanding the release of two men arrested in connection with the murder of a Christian student,” Sokoto resident Ibrahim Arquila told AFP.
Arkila, who oversaw the protests, said, “The mob lighting bonfires on the streets was also demanding the police to stop searches to identify those involved in the murder.”
Bubey Ando, a resident near the palace, said protesters surrounded Abubakar’s palace, chanting “Allahu Akbar” or God is great.
“Some of the security guards guarding the palace tried to tell the protesters to leave, but they went out of control,” Ando said.
“Policemen and soldiers standing outside the palace threw tear gas canisters and opened fire in the air and were successful in dispersing the crowd,” he said.
Another resident, Farooq Danahili, said the angry mob retreated from the city, where they attempted to rob shops of Christian residents, but were dispersed by security patrols.
On Saturday afternoon, Sokoto Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal urged protesters to return home and declared a curfew.
“Following the tragic incident that took place on Thursday at Shehu Shagri College of Education and the sequel to the developments in the (Sokoto) city from this morning till noon… I hereby declare curfew for the next 24 hours, with immediate effect hours,” he said in a statement.
“Everyone should, please, go back home in the interest of peace.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has “strongly condemned” the killing of Deborah Samuel.
“No one in this country has the right to take the law into their own hands. Violence will not and will not solve any problem,” Buhari said in a statement on Friday.