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Blasphemy: Rioters torch, vandalise Kukah’s parishes in Sokoto

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Rampaging hoodlums on Saturday torched and vandalised at least two parishes presided over by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan-Kukah, PUNCH Metro has learnt.

The Director, Social Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Rev. Fr Christopher Omotosho, confirmed the development in a telephone chat with our correspondent on Saturday.

According to Omotosho, the rioters burnt the gatehouse of one of the church buildings and set a bus ablaze in the compound. He added that the second affected church was vandalised by the hoodlums.

Omotosho gave the names of the two churches as Holy Family Cathedral on Bello Way and St Kelvin Gidan Dere, Eastern Bypass.

When our correspondent asked about the whereabouts and safety of the fiery preacher, the spokesman for the Diocese stressed that “Bishop Kukah is fine”.

On Thursday, Kukah described as criminal, the gruesome murder of Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, North-West Nigeria.

He had also called on the authorities to ensure “those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”

The police said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing of Deborah, who was mauled and burnt to death on the school premises for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Hundreds of placard-carrying Muslim youths began a protest in Sokoto on Saturday morning and demanded the release of two suspects.

The Muslim protesters clashed with security operatives who fired shots to disperse the surging demonstrators.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal subsequently imposed a curfew on the people of the state amid rising tension.

Following Tambuwal’s directive, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, banned religious protests in Kaduna, saying some “unpatriotic elements” planned to organise a “series of for-and-against protests” related to the unfolding event in Sokoto.