The appeal division of the Kano State High Court has set aside the death sentence passed on Aminu Yahaya Sharif, a Kano singer, charged with blasphemy.
The two-man panel of the court in a judgment on the appeal filed by Sharif ordered a retrial of the case on the grounds that the whole proceedings at the lower court were characterised with irregularities.
The court in another appeal also set aside the judgement and sentencing of Umar Faruk, a 13-year-old boy who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on the charge of blasphemy.
A Sharia Court in Kano, in August last year sentenced Aminu Yahaya Sharif, to death by hanging for blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
The court sitting at Hausawa Filin Hockey, presided over by Khadi Muhammad Ali Kani, gave the verdict after finding Sharif guilty of the offence.
- His offence
He was arraigned on a one-count charge of insulting religious creed, contrary to Section 382 (6) of the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law 2000.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) sighted by our correspondents, the convict committed the offence via a WhatsApp post on February 28, 2020, in which he called the Holy prophet a ‘mushrik (proclaiming other gods)’.
A mushrik, according to askislampedia.com, “is a person who believes in another deity together with Allah The Almighty, and who demonstrates this by dedicating acts of worship, such as kneeling, prostration, supplication, slaughtering or any other act of worship, to a being other than Allah The Almighty.”
The term is used interchangeably with the word kafir, an Arabic word meaning infidel or unbeliever.
The prosecutor, Inspector Aminu Yargoje, told the court that the said post was intended to create ill feelings among the Muslim faithful in the state.
According to the FIR, “On 28 February between the hours of 20:00hrs to 23:50 hours, you Sharif Yahaya Aminu, (M) 30 years old, Muslim of No 26 Sharifai Quarters Kano, with an intention to hurt the feelings of Muslim faithful made a post via a WhatsApp group named Gidan Umma Abiha, some abusive and degrading audio statements in which you called Prophet Muhammad S.A.W atheist, mushrik, who propagates shirk and whose position is lower than that of Inyass in the hereafter.”
Falana appeals the judgement
However, in less than seven days to the expiration of the 30 days allowed by law for the convict to appeal the judgement the human rights activist, Femi Falana, applied for the appeal of the ruling of the Kano Shari’a court on behalf of the convict.
Sharif and 13-year-old Omar Farouk were sentenced the same day at the same court.
While Sharif was sentenced to death by hanging, Farouk was sentenced 10 years imprisonment with menial labour.
In September last year, the UNICEF’s country representative in Nigeria Peter Hawkins called on Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.
He said, “The sentencing of this child – 13-year-old Omar Farouk – to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong. It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria – and by implication, Kano State – has signed on to.”
However, in his swift reaction, the state Attorney General and commissioner for justice, Musa Abdullahi Lawan said the government of the state cannot intervene in court cases.
- Kano Government reacts to Thursday’s judgement
The state Attorney General and commissioner of justice MA Lawal said the government is glad with the judgements because on one hand it has reaffirmed that Sharia Penal code law has come to stay in the state.
He said, the appellants have sort to discredit the law but the appeal court has ruled that it is legally here to stay and not in contrary to the constitution of the country.
“This is a victory to Kano people as the law is here to stay. The court ordered that the accused to be re tried under the same law. The boy was only discharge because he wasn’t represented not that the sharia penal code is unconstitutional” he said
“We are going back to the court on Sharif case to see if they are willing to continue we will and if they can’t represent him we shall provide for him. We are going back to court, we will get him legal representation. We will give him ample opportunity to get legal representative ” he said
He said, the state has so many cases pending before the supreme Court and this cannot be an exemption if it goes there as well.
Recall that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje had expressed willingness to signing the death warrant for the execution of Shariah court judgement.