There was pandemonium, yesterday, in Sokoto as protesters took to the streets demanding the release of two suspects detained for the killing of the late Miss Deborah Emmanuel, who was murdered by angry Muslim youths for alleged blasphemy.
The protest, which was said to have started at about 9 a.m., saw the protesters, who were chanting “God is Great” in Arabic, also faulting what they described as the sympathy trailing the murder of Deborah, who was a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto.
The deceased was killed last Thursday by a mob over alleged blasphemy, leading to nationwide outrage.
Subsequently, the state police command said it had arrested two suspects in connection with the killing.
In one of the videos of the incidents seen by Sunday Vanguard, a young man is seen with a matchbox, saying he is the one who set the victim ablaze.
However, an attempt by the protesters to attack the Palace of Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, was resisted by security agencies.
owever, an attempt by the protesters to attack the Palace of Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, was resisted by security agencies.
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Major streets in the town such as Ahmadu Bello Way, Emir Yahaya, Aliyu Jedo, Fodio Road, Old Market, Rijia Dorowa, Sahara, Gusau Road, J-Allen and Marina were deserted.
Some traders at Sokoto Central Market were said to have been attacked when the placard–bearing protesters stormed the market.
Some of the placards read: “Release our Muslim brothers”, “Muslims Are Not Terrorists” and “Peaceful Riot”.
The protesters were said to have attacked Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Ahmadu Bello Way where they destroyed the windows of the main church building.
At Saint Bahita Secretariat, Sokoto Diocese, Aliyu Jedo, the protesters were said to have set cars ablaze on the premises before they were driven away by security agents.
In some videos of the protest, security agents, comprising soldiers and policemen, are seen dispersing the protesters with what looks like tear gas canisters.
Some terrified non-indigenes, who reside in the town, ran to the Old Airport area, which is close to army barracks while others remained indoors for fear of being attacked.
As of press time, soldiers and policemen were patrolling major streets in the metropolis to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
To stop the incident from escalating further, Gover-nor Aminu Tambuwal, declared a 24-hour curfew with immediate effect.
In a statement released on the government’s official Facebook page by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Governor, Mohammed Bello, the curfew was said to have been informed by the need for peace and order.
“Following the sad incident that happened at the Shehu Shagari College of Education on Thursday and sequel to the developments within (Sokoto) metropolis this morning till afternoon, by the powers conferred on me by sections 176(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; and section 1 and 4 of the Public Order Act; and, also Section 15 of Sokoto State Peace Preservation Law, I hereby declare, with immediate effect, a curfew within (Sokoto) metropolis of Sokoto township for the next 24 hours”, the statement said.
“I appeal to the good people of Sokoto State to kindly continue to observe law and order and calm down (on the) restiveness currently pervading in the metropolis.
“Everyone should, please, in the interest of peace go back home and observe these measures, with a view of the reestablishment of peace, law and order in the state.
I, therefore, appeal for restraint; and, for people to observe and respect the rule of law.”
In a related development, the Kaduna State government, in consultation with security agencies under the umbrella of the Kaduna State Security Council, placed a ban on protests related to religious activity throughout the state with immediate effect.
A statement by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the prohibition became imperative given moves by” some unpatriotic elements.”
The statement reads: “This prohibition becomes imperative given moves by some unpatriotic elements to organize series of for-and-against protests related to a security development in one of the Northern Nigerian states.
“Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, who has been briefed on the development, has charged security agencies to ensure strict enforcement of this ban against any form of religious protest in the state.
“The governor also charged religious leaders, community leaders and traditional rulers throughout the State to complement the efforts of government and security agencies towards the maintenance of peace and stability.
“Security agencies have thus resolved that any attempt by individuals or groups to disrupt the peace and stability of the state, by way of religious protests, will not be condoned. Such protests will be promptly halted, and conveners prosecuted.
“Citizens are implored to remain calm as they go about their lawful pursuits, and to immediately report any such activity or security concern to the Kaduna State Security Operations Room.’’
“The terrorists are taking care of us; they feed us well and give us our medication”.