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Prof, 33 other lawyers defend Deborah Samuel’s alleged killers as court remands two suspects in prison

A Magistrate Court sitting in Sokoto has remanded two suspects arrested over the murder of a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Deborah Samuel, for alleged blasphemy.The Police arraigned the two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunchi, who are also students of the college, on Monday with the defence team boasting of 34 lawyers.A mob of Muslim extremists comprising colleagues and co-students of the deceased, lynched Ms Samuel over alleged blasphemy, sparking nationwide outrage by Nigerians. The Police First Information Report said both suspects were arraigned as a result of the mob action, which led to Deborah’s lynching.Both suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them following their arraignment.Against this backdrop, the prosecutor, Inspector Khalil Musa, prayed the court for another date to enable the Police to complete its investigation.Khalil Musa told the court that an investigation was in progress as Ms Samuel’s corpse was still in a morgue at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.However, leading a team of 34 lawyers, the defence counsel, Professor Mansur Ibrahim, who did not oppose the application, pleaded with the court to grant the defendants bail.Ibrahim cited sections 157, 161(a,f) and 164 of the administration of criminal justice law of Sokoto state, as well as 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.The court, however, adjourned the ruling on the application to a later date which would be communicated to the lawyers.It, therefore, directed the defendants to be remanded at the Sokoto Correctional Centre.Before she was lynched, Ms Samuel, a 200-Level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was accused of denigrating Islam on a school WhatsApp chat platform set up by her coursemates.A violent street protest by Islamic extremists followed the arrest of suspects linked to the lynching of Ms Samuel as the protesters demanded their release by security operatives.Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto consequently imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state metropolis on Saturday, relaxing the curfew on Monday to be observed from dusk to dawn.

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