Social media users have condemned the detention of a Nigerian woman, Rhoda Jatau, who has been detained for 18 months for allegedly protesting the gruesome murder of Samuel Deborah.
Deborah was a Christian and a 200-level student of Home Economics at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, who was murdered by Islamic extremists and set ablaze after she advised her classmates against posting religious materials on their WhatsApp page.
She was killed by a mob on May 12, 2022.
The detention of Jatau in Bauchi State led to the hashtag #FreeRhoda on the X platform.
A few days after Deborah was lynched, the police announced the arrest of two suspects; Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, in connection to Deborah’s murder, and they were arraigned on May 16, 2022, at the Sokoto Chief Magistrate Court for their alleged participation in the crime.
OnMay 17, 2022, The press reports that the Nigeria Police Force, Sokoto State Command, declared fleeing suspects captured in the viral video of the killing and subsequent setting on fire of Deborah Samuel wanted for culpable homicide.
The command further explained that those arrested at the scene of the incident while dispersing the mob had been charged to court and the court remanded them in prison.
On August 28, 2022, newsmen reported the State Police Command had said its men were still searching for the suspected killers of Deborah.
The command added that those arrested by the police were not the prime suspects.
However, on the 14th of May, 2023, the police command said prime suspects in Deborah’s murder were at large.
However, Jatau, a mother of five has reportedly been arrested and detained since 2022.
She was charged with “inciting public disturbance, contempt of religious creed and cyber-stalking” under the Penal Code and the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Nigerians on social media X, (formerly Twitter) have continued to slam Jtau’s continued detention.
Taking to social media yesterday (Tuesday), Nigerian, Modupe Odele with the X handle tweeted, “Rhoda Ya’u Jatau is a Christian from Bauchi State who has spent over 18 months in jail for sharing a video condemning the lynching of university student Deborah Emmanuel. She was accused of blasphemy…”
Another Nigerian, @Uncle_Onos, expressed concern saying, “She has so far spent over 18 months languishing in Police detention. This is the height of wickedness and cruelty. Meanwhile, no word has been of how the killers of Deborah were treated by the Police. They are probably walking the streets freely. RHODA JATAU MUST BE FREED!!!”
Also, popular skit maker, Mr Macaroni decried the continuous detention by tweeting, “Rhoda Jatau is a Christian. A Mother of 5. She has spent over 18 months and counting in a Prison in Bauchi for condemning the gruesome and barbaric murder of Deborah; a fellow Christian. This is a crime against humanity and this madness must come to an end! FREE RHODA JATAU!!!”
Reacting to one of the several tweets calling for the release of Jatau, another netizen with the handle @king_Bello7 decried the failure of the police to apprehend the murders of Deborah but “Deborah’s killers are walking free”
A music executive, @ChubieUjah questioned if the constitution of the nation has been swapped for Sharia law without the knowledge of Nigerians. He posted, “I don’t understand how this is happening in a civilised society that claims to be a secular state. What are they not telling us? Has our constitution been swapped for Sharia law without our knowledge?” while @ProsperLuis2 expressed that “Christians are suffering in northern Nigeria.”
Another netizen @addel_cares blamed the Christian community for the detention of Jatau.
He tweeted, “Something would happen in Nigeria, and you would ask yourself, do we even have Christian leaders in Nigeria? I don’t even blame them, but the gullible Nigerians who see them as God, and when it’s time for them to stand up, they won’t. Arrest a Muslim and put him or her in prison and see if everyone would rest.” Another X user named @GoodPikins said, “Please release the innocent woman.”
@Real_Ekaf called for justice, adding that “Enough is Enough” on the detention of Jatau and @Cutefabulous02 added, “The injustice against Christians in the north is uncalled for. I wish the secularity of the Nigerian state is applicable to all the states of the federation. The day we would understand as people that humanity begot religion may mark the day of our liberation. #FreeRhoda”
When contacted for his reaction on the case by our correspondent, the Police Public Relations Officer in Bauchi State, Ahmad Wakili, said “Call the PRO of the DSS,” at the mention of Rhoda Jatau.
However, all efforts made to reach the DSS proved abortive. Also, when contacted on steps and actions taken to secure the release of Jatau, the apex Christian body in the country was unavailable as of the time of filing this report as the line did not go through.