The police on Monday arraigned two suspects, Bilyaminu Aliyu and Aminu Hukunci, over the lynching of Deborah Samuel on May 12, with the defence team boasting of 34 lawyers.
A mob of Muslim extremists comprising colleagues and co-students of the deceased, lynched Ms Samuel over alleged blasphemy, sparking nationwide outrage by Nigerians.
The suspects were docked at a Sokoto Chief Magistrate’s Court for their alleged participation in the crime. They pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Prosecuting inspector, Khalil Musa, told the court that investigation was in progress as Ms Samuel’s corpse was still in a morgue at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.
Leading a team of 34 lawyers, the defence counsel, Mansur Ibrahim, applied for their bail on liberal terms citing constitutional provisions and sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
The trial judge (name withheld for security reasons) reserved ruling on the bail application and ordered the accused to be remanded at a correctional centre.
Before she was lynched, Ms Samuel, a 200-Level Home Economics student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was accused of denigrating Islam on a school WhatsApp chat platform set up by her coursemates.
A violent street protest by Islamic extremists followed the arrest of suspects linked to the lynching of Ms Samuel as the protesters demanded their release by security operatives.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto consequently imposed a 24-hour curfew on the state metropolis on Saturday, relaxing the curfew on Monday to be observed from dusk to dawn.