Nigeria: Kano Singer Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy Appeals Judgment

Wooden gavel
3 September 2020

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, the Kano singer sentenced to death for blasphemy, has appealed the judgment that convicted him at the Kano State High Court.

In the notice of appeal filed on Thursday, Mr Sharif-Aminu included the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and the Attorney General of the state as respondents.

A judgment of Khadi Allyu Muhammad Kani of the Kano Upper Shari'a Court sentenced the musician to death by hanging for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad on August 10.

The 22-year-old was convicted based on Section 382 (b) of Kano penal code of 2000 after he was accused of committing blasphemy against the prophet in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.

Despite the public outcry with rights groups seeking a reversal of the judgment, Mr Ganduje said he would sign the death warrant after all legal options for a reprieve had been explored.

"I will not waste time in signing the warrant for the execution of the man who blasphemed our holy prophet of Islam," the governor said during a meeting with clerics in Kano.

Appeal

According to a copy of the court document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, the singer pleaded that the court should set aside the judgement because the law used to convict him was unconstitutional and conflicts with the Nigerian constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Also, he argued that his confessional statement and plea in the court is legally irrelevant in the absence of a valid law criminalising the alleged conduct.

He added that the Sharia law is only applicable and permissible in Islamic theocracies or countries whose constitution allows for such laws and not in Nigeria- a secular State with constitutional democracy.

"The offence of Blasphemy is no longer a cognisable offence in Nigerian by virtue of Section 10 standing alone or in conjunction with Sections 38 and 39 of the Constitution respectively. A capital offence seeking to terminate human life must comply strictly and especially with the right to life provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," he stated further.

Mr Sharif-Aminu said his trial was devoid of transparency, not conducted in an open court and there is no record of proceedings indicating any compliance with due process.

He further alleged that the Kano State Government, as a party and prosecutor to the complaint, is a complicit party when it failed to provide adequate security and equal enforcement of secular laws.

"The Kano State Government lacks the constitutional authority to adopt legislative mechanism to exclusively compensate Muslims for its lack of performance in providing good order and security by enacting unconstitutional laws that curtail the right to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and blasphemy laws essentially censored religious opinions, critical expression of human conscience and thoughts and significantly," Mr Sharif-Aminu argued.

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