On May 12, 2022, a group of Shehu Shagari College Of Education Sokoto (SSCOE) students killed Deborah Samuel (also known as Deborah Yakubu), a Christain student, based on blasphemy accusations.
In a WhatsApp group chat, Samuel allegedly made a comment that classmates perceived as insulting the Prophet Muhammed. According to police, a group of students took Samuel from a campus security outpost where she was hiding. The students beat Samuel with clubs and stones and then set her body on fire. Police reportedly used tear gas and fired shots in the air in an apparent attempt to disperse her attackers, who threw rocks and sticks in response.
SSCOE announced an indefinite closure of its campus following the attack, to allow authorities to carry out an investigation. Police reportedly arrested two suspects in connection with Samuel’s killing.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about the targeted killing of a student based on their expressive activity and offers condolences to their family, friends, and classmates. State authorities have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such incidents, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable, in accordance with international human rights obligations. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, assassinations of students in apparent retaliation for the nonviolent exercise of freedom of expression undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.