• Rejects grave dug for another person before burial
Controversies yesterday trailed the supposed burial of Deborah Yakubu Samuel, who was killed by Islamic extremists for alleged blasphemy after the family rejected an already existing grave dug for someone else to be used for her. Relatives of the late Deborah also condemned the manner the remains of the deceased was manhandled.
They alleged that the public vehicle that carried her remains and her parents from Sokoto State dropped them by the roadside in Rijau, Niger State and zoomed off to Sokoto. Deborah, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto, who was stoned to death and burnt by her fellow students for allegedly making a blasphemous statement on a WhatsApp group was buried in Tungan Magajiya in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State.
A family source and Pastor of the First Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Church, Tungan Magajiya, Pastor Emmanuel Mahaji, while speaking with our Correspondent on the telephone, confirmed that Christians and relatives have thronged the Tungan Magajiya village in Rijau Local Government Area of Niger State, to bid the murdered Deborah farewell. Mahaji also condemned the manner the deceased was treated before and after her death.
According to Pastor Mahaji, who is also an uncle of the deceased: “Currently, we are in the family house. Deborah’s remains have been received and we are preparing for the burial”.
Mahaji, however, confirmed to Sunday Telegraph that while the family is insisting that late Deborah be buried yesterday, there were suggestions that her remains be deposited in the mortuary for proper burial arrangements and government’s involvement.
According to him:”We are not happy with the way the government is handling the issue with kid gloves. The driver of the public vehicle even dropped them and zoomed off just like that.
“Imagine, the bones and ashes of Deborah were brought in a chartered bus. Not even a government vehicle or a representative. Immediately after the driver arrived, he dropped the body, asked the parents to also drop and he returned to Sokoto.”
Speaking further, he said the late Deborah had been living with family members in Sokoto, ever since she was in the primary school and that it was sad that the government was not doing anything regarding the issue at hand.
Faulting the nonchalant attitude exhibited by the Sokoto State government, Pastor Mahaji said: “They only called and said that it is not right for the family to take the corpse just like that without informing them.
“They said that they shouldn’t bury the body as the body is for the government and not for the family. They asked them to put the body in the mortuary but the parents insisted that their daughter must be buried”.
While confirming the state’s action, Pastor Mahaji said: “I cannot recollect the name of the person who called but the person claimed to be representing the government of Sokoto State”.
Pastor Mahaji while condemning the manner at which the deceased was treated before and after her death said the father of the deceased was called on Friday to come and collect the ashes of Deborah to bury.
Mahaji, who spoke in Hausa, added that the father left on Friday and returned with her remains on Saturday morning. Sunday Telegraph gathered that, sympathizers and family members, who questioned whose grave it was, left the burial site one after the other, thereby leaving them no other option than to deposit her remains in the mortuary till further notice. Pastor Mahaji in an updated response said, “a later date will be communicated but for now we will deposit her corpse in the mortuary.” Efforts to get the parents to speak proved abortive as one of Deborah’s uncle, a brother to her father, whose name was not got, said that he cannot speak until arrangements have been finalized, adding that, “we will get back to you later.
We are still planning the burial and holding meetings”. Confirming the arrival of the corpse, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Niger State chapter, Most Rev. Bulus Dauwa Yohanna, condoled with the family and the body of Christ.
The Chairman, who is the Catholic Bishop of Kontagora and represented by the CAN Coordinator of Rijau Local Government area, Reverend Danjuma Doma, told Sunday Telegraph that the family and church were currently preparing for the burial.
He said: “We are preparing for the burial. She will be buried today. We are all here to give the family support. We will update you on the situation as it goes.” In his condolence message, the CAN Chairman prayed God to grant the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.