Defence & Security

Lawyers berate Tambuwal over slain student’s alleged killers’ trial mode

• ‘Charges insult to parents, Nigeria’

• ‘Charge culprits with culpable homicide’

By Paul Michael, Defence Editor, Abuja

Some Lawyers and human rights activists have accused Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal of being complicit in what they regard as the unsatisfactory trial of the alleged killers of Deborah Samuel, a 200-level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, over alleged blasphemy.

She was lynched by her schoolmates for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) had on Monday arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, who had been arrested in connection with the lynching of the young lady.

The suspects were docked at a Sokoto Chief Magistrates’ Court for their alleged participation in the crime and charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Incitement of Public Disturbance.

Reacting to the charges, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the charges against the suspects insult the parents of the deceased, Nigeria and God.

In a statement titled “Conspiracy in Sokoto,” Adegboruwa said Tambuwal’s political ambition should not override his sense of responsibility for the life of a citizen entrusted in his care.

Giving a background to the murder, which has attracted widespread condemnation, the learned silk said he is disappointed in the governor, a supposed lawyer, life bencher, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Adegboruwa said: “This crime took place in an enlightened environment in a higher institution, under the watch of security men, who were said to have been overpowered. It all started from a WhatsApp group, which has identified leaders. There are students who sent messages and threats of death on that platform. Their phone numbers are registered with NIN identification. They belong to a class in the school so they are known
individuals. Images of persons who openly and boastfully confessed to partaking in the murder abound, with one displaying the match stick with which the deceased was set ablaze.

“The government of Sokoto State has by these charges shown itself complicit in this whole drama and it is most unfortunate, for a State that is headed by a lawyer, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and who is aspiring to rule Nigeria as its President. It is most uncharitable of His Excellency to have condoned this baseless charge. It is better to set the suspects free rather than claim to try them.”

He further stressed that the aftermath of the gruesome murder, the watery charges filed and the consenting attitude of those concerned have depressed him more than the act itself.

“Nigeria cannot work this way at all. I’m truly saddened by this development. I expected the Governor as Visitor to that school to have visited the parents of the deceased, who trusted the authorities and sent their ward to school from Niger to Sokoto State, in furtherance of the mantra of a United Nigeria,” he added.

While concluding he noted that if the impression gotten with all these charges is that the State itself endorsed the murder of the deceased, then we are sowing the seeds of discord and fragmentation.

“It is better for His Excellency to resign now, rather than go down in history as the Governor under whose watch a citizen was murdered and the Governor could not enforce the laws of the land but rather aided and abetted its cover-up. It is Governor Tambuwal who is actually on trial in this case,” he said.

In a related development, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, said the trial of the alleged killers of Deborah should be handled by the Sokoto Attorney-General if the state government was serious about the prosecution.

According to him, the Attorney General of Sokoto State should have taken over the matter and not the police.

He condemned the manner with which the police were handling the matter noting that the charges filed against the two suspects were trivial.

While speaking to newsmen in an interview, Effiong queried the rationale behind having the case charged at a Magistrate Court, stating that only the High Court had the jurisdiction to hear such matters. He added that the State government was unserious with the case.

He said, “At this time, the terms are not quite clear on the role they played in the case. Given they actually took part in killing her, they should be charged with culpable homicide.

Read Also: Deborah Samuel’s parents offered lifetime employment, free house, scholarship for children

“The term is the same with murder but that’s what they call it over there. If they took part in the commission of the offense, they should be charged and, in any event, culpable homicide can only be tried at the High court; the fact that this case was taken to the Magistrate court is also questionable but then, the North has its own process, they have what is called the first information report which is basically a complaint before a formal charge is made.

“From what I’ve read, it appears the police are either not serious about the case or they are still hunting to get the culprits because this lady was murdered in the full glare of the public and there are videos of people who confessed to taking part in killing her. All of them should be tracked down and arrested and charged for culpable homicide, except that is done, except people are actually convicted for killing Deborah, justice will not be said to have been done.

“The charge that they have filed against these two suspects is very trivial and it does not underscore the seriousness of the crime. Since this is a case of culpable homicide, the Attorney-General of Sokoto should take over. If Governor Tambuwal is actually serious, he should have directed the AG, actually, the Attorney-General should be the one prosecuting. I don’t understand how the police are going to prosecute culpable homicide. It is not a matter for the Magistrate court.

“I have also read that over 30 lawyers appeared for them, that is an indication that a large section of the society supported the barbarism of these suspects who killed Deborah and that is particularly troubling and that is the more reason why the state government should take up the matter because if they only stop at these two individuals with the unserious charges they filed, then they would have made nonsense of the case.”

Meanwhile, the suspects, who pleaded not guilty to the crime, were represented by a team of 34 lawyers including Prof Mansur Ibrahim.

One of the defense lawyers identified as Zayyanu Aliyu Dinyadi took to his Facebook page to announce that the accused persons were charged with criminal conspiracy and inciting public disturbance, offenses that could be bailed under the Nigerian law.

Dingyadi, who claimed to be a solicitor, advocate of the Supreme Court, and human rights activist, in a now-deleted post on his Facebook page, wrote, “I was opportune to be among many Muslims Lawyers that appeared in Court today (Monday) in defense of two suspects charged by the Police in connection with the last Wednesday’s Protest at SSCOE leading to the Death of Deborah Samuel (La’anatullahi Alaiha) for Blaspheming the name of our Noble Prophet (S.A.W).

“The Suspects were charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Inciting Public Disturbance, which are bailable offenses under the Nigerian Laws.

“The matter was adjourned to the 18 May 2022 (Wednesday) for ruling on their bail application as prayed by the learned Lead Counsel Barr Mustapha Abubakar Mada.”

The police in Sokoto have declared the men seen in the viral video of the murder of Deborah Samuel wanted for culpable homicide.

Public Relations Officer of the Sokoto Command, ASP Sanusi Abubakar, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday.

“Prime suspects that claimed the murder of Deborah Samuel in the viral video were declared wanted,” Abubakar said.

He called on members of the public to cooperate with the police and report to the command or any security outfit in their domain if they have information on the suspects.

Abubakar gave the assurance that the Sokoto Police Command is committed to apprehending the suspects.

“The command has already deployed all its intelligence and is on the lookout for the suspects,” he added.

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