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Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu
Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu

A 25-year-old Christian student at the Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto state, Nigeria, was killed by a mob on May 12th after rumours spread that she had blasphemed against Mohammed on a WhatsApp group chat. The precise nature of her comments is unclear, but it appears that the problem started when Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu expressed exasperation at religious posts being shared by her classmates, asking that the others focus on issues related to their course work. Apparently, Deborah also rejected advances from one of the other students, who later made the blasphemy accusation.

According to media reports, a mob gathered and forcefully dragged Deborah from her residence. Once outside, she was beaten, stoned to death, and then her body was burned. A video of the attack was released on social media in which one young man can be heard proudly proclaiming: "I'm the one that killed her and set her ablaze. This is the matchstick I used in setting her on fire." The video earlier showed numerous students beating her and shouting "Allahu Akbar" while the young Christian pleaded for her life.

The two primary instigators of the attack, students Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy and disturbing the peace. Protesting their arrests, a mob of militants erupted into violence which resulted in fires being started, numerous businesses looted, and multiple church buildings damaged. The Sultan of Sokoto, who is considered the leader of Nigeria's Muslim community, condemned the killing and called for justice. However, his statement then led to demonstrations outside his palace, which police were forced to disperse. Response from political leaders has been minimal. For more information addressing our ongoing concerns for Christians in Nigeria, go to our country report.

Pray for peace and justice to take place in the aftermath of this horrific situation. May God's comforting presence be tangibly experienced by Deborah's friends, family members and fellow students during this time of mourning. Ask the Lord to powerfully minister by His Holy Spirit in this volatile area of Nigeria, touching the hearts of both Christians and Muslims so they will dwell together in harmony – all the while revealing His wonderful plan of eternal salvation to those who are in need spiritually. May our Nigerian Christian brothers and sisters continue to be testimonies of His love, forgiveness and hope to others around them.

Current Ministry Projects

Through a vast variety of projects, VOMC works with in-country partners to encourage and strengthen Nigerian Christians who have experienced extreme forms of persecution. Christian widows receive trauma counselling to help them heal from the aftermath of tragically losing their husbands due to persecution-related attacks. These widows are also provided skills training so they can have a practical means of income to support their families. Children who have lost their parents and other relatives during incidents of persecution are provided a safe place in which to grow and be nurtured. Medical fees are paid for Christians who have suffered serious injuries perpetrated by militants affiliated with Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Fulani groups. Discipleship and vocational training are being offered to Muslim-background believers to help them start their new lives spiritually and practically.

The ministry also gives persecuted Christians who are completing their master's degrees – and have a desire to share the Gospel in their communities – the opportunity to benefit as recipients of the Glenn Penner Scholarship Award. Another one of VOMC’s projects in Nigeria involves the distribution of food aid to persecuted Christians residing within Internal Displacement Persons' (IDP) camps. Through this distribution effort, displaced believers who have been forced to flee their homes and communities because of their faith not only receive daily sustenance but also the encouragement that’s needed to rebuild their lives.

Project Funds: Women’s Ministry, Bibles (Distribution), Medical, Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Relief & Development

Country Information

Population
219,463,862 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Hausa (30), Yoruba (15.5), Igbo (15.2), Fulani (6), Tiv (2.4), Kanuri/Beriberi (2.4), Ibibio (1.8), Izaw/Izon (1.8), Other (24.7)

Religion (%)
Islam (53.5), Christianity (45.9), Other (0.6)

Leader
President Muhammadu Buhari (2015)

Government type
Federal presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states), and traditional law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Nigeria

May God minister great comfort and healing to all who have been injured or bereaved as a result of the militants' brutal attacks. In addition, pray for the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls, that they will be assured of the Lord's abiding presence as they await release from captivity. Continue to uphold President Buhari and other members of the Nigerian government as they make further attempts to rescue the remaining girls and provide protection for vulnerable citizens. As they persevere in their endeavours to overcome terrorism, may they be granted wisdom, courage, strength and help from on high.

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