NBA  concedes, cancels conference over murder of Sokoto college student

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on Tuesday, called off its conference that was scheduled to hold in Sokoto State following the brutal killing of Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, over alleged blasphemy.

The event, with the theme, ‘Rule of Law and Democratic Evolution in Nigeria’, was scheduled to hold in Sokoto between May 22 and 26.

Miss Yakubu was accused of blasphemy and subsequently lynched with her body set ablaze by a mob last Thursday in Sokoto. The mob was made up of mainly fellow students.

The incident drew nationwide outrage with many calling for the prosecution of those involved in the killing and cancellation of the conference. NewsWireNGR recalls that, two frontline speakers billed to attend the conference, a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu, and a former education minister, Oby Ezekwesili, stated they weren’t attending the confernce.

But, the NBA President, Olumide Akpata, on Tuesday, issued a statement calling off the conference.

“The NBA is deeply worried not just by the chilling news of the murder of Deborah Yakubu, but also by the sudden and sad turn of events and the deteriorating security situation in Sokoto State,” Akpata lamented.

He based the NBA’s decision to cancel the conference on “the current security condition in Sokoto,” saying “it has become apparent that we cannot guarantee the safety of our guest speakers, delegates and other stakeholders that have committed to attend the NBA-SPIDEL’s conference.”

“Accordingly, the Executive Committee of NBA-SPIDEL came to the painful decision to request, and I have approved, that the 2022 NBA-SPIDEL Annual Conference be postponed not only for the safety of our conferees and guests, but as a mark of respect for the memory of the slain Miss Deborah Yakubu,” Apkpata said.

NBA opposes suspects’ charge with ‘mere breach of public peace’. The umbrella body of Nigerian lawyers in the country expressed concerns over the prosecution of the suspects in Miss Yakubu’s murder.

“We are, however, worried by yet-to-be-confirmed reports reaching us that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace in an episode that cut short Deborah’s life in her prime,”.

He said the NBA is opposed to a “banalisation of the situation”, calling on the “Sokoto State Government to immediately rethink its prosecution strategy and file charges that truly reflect the gravity of the situation.”

Security agencies must bring perpetrators of killings to justice, the statement reads. The NBA urged the government to “ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are made to face the full wrath of the law.”

It condemned the gruesome murder of a military couple in Anambra State recently and the lynching of a sound engineer by a group of commercial motorcyclists in the Lekki area of Lagos last week.

“The government should immediately commence the prosecution of all suspects involved in these brutal and arbitrary killings in order to send a strong signal that such acts will no longer be tolerated in Nigeria.

“The NBA also believes that the prompt and effective prosecution of the alleged killers will instil confidence in the citizens, promote accountability, and show government’s commitment to the rule of law,” Akpata said.

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