A female student in Nigeria was beaten to death and set on fire by fellow students who accused her of posting “blasphemous” statements in a WhatsApp group, two witnesses have said.
The school, located in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Sokoto, was immediately closed down following the attack.
Two suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of the student, who was identified as Deborah Samuel, said a spokesperson for the Sokoto state command.
There is a WhatsApp group being used by the students, and her Muslim colleague student posted an Islamic piece. She criticised the posting,” said one of the witnesses, who declined to be named.
She composed an audio that contains blasphemous comments on the prophet of Islam and posted in the group. That is what triggered everything.”
School security and police attempted to rescue the girl but were overwhelmed by the students, the witnesses said.
“Police have fired teargas on the students ... then began firing shots in the sky to disperse the students, but they resisted,” said Summayya Usman Inname, a student in her second year.
“The police sacrificed the lady after the students began throwing sticks and stones at them, then the students used stones and sticks to beat the lady. After being beaten, she was set on fire.
The Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto said in a statement that it had closed the college indefinitely “following today’s early morning student rampage”.
The Sokoto sultanate council condemned the “unfortunate happenings ...that led to the loss of life of a female student at the institution”.
Nigeria is divided into a largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north. Incidents such as this are very rare.
In 2007, Muslim pupils at a secondary school in the northeast beat a teacher to death after accusing her of desecrating the Qur’an.