Christianah Oluwasesin, a secondary school teacher in the town of Gombe (northern Nigeria) was murdered last week by a mob of Muslim students at the school. They beat, stoned, and clubbed her to death before setting her body on fire. The attack was sparked by claims that she desecrated the Qur`an.
As a supervisor of a class writing a final examination on “Islamic Religious Knowledge” during that day, Christianah was responsible for ensuring that students strictly kept rules to prevent cheating, said Aluke Musa Yila, a fellow teacher at the school. Musa said that Christianah had collected papers, books and bags before the exam in the all-girls class, in accordance with school procedures, and placed the materials at the front of the classroom.
“Usually such items are returned to every student as each turns in her work,” Musa said. “When all of the materials collected by Christianah were taken to the front of the room, one of the girls in the class began to cry. She told the class that she had a copy of the Qur`an in her bag, that Christianah had touched the bag – that by doing so she had desecrated the Qur`an, since she was a Christian.”
Soon after the student raised this alarm to the rest of the school, other students in class began to shout “Allahu Akbar!” (Arabic for “Allah is great!”) as Christianah was beaten by both male and female students.
Musa and the school`s principal quickly took Christianah out of the classroom and brought her to the main office. Within minutes a large group of Muslims from outside the school came and joined in the uproar. They demanded that Christianah be handed over to them to be stoned to death.
“I and the principal succeeded in getting Christianah up to the school gate,” Musa said. “There was a house near the gate and he dragged her into the house, but the rioting Muslims went into the house and dragged her out again. This time, they beat her to death. After this they brought old mats and placed dirt on her corpse before burning the body.”
The mob then set Christianah`s car on fire, which quickly spread to destroy the school library and some of the classrooms. Police and Fire Brigade officers were stoned by the mob. All secondary schools in the Gombe metropolitan area were shut down indefinitely following the murder.
Christianah Oluwasesin is mourned by her husband Femi and their two children, as well as her many friends in the evangelical church in Gombe where she was a Sunday School teacher.