Kano blasphemy: ‘Death sentence, breach of human rights’

Buhari’s aide backs conviction



An Abuja-based human rights group, Concerned Nigerians, has berated a Kano Shariah Court for sentencing to death by hanging of a Kano-based musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad. But President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, expressed backing for the death penalty passed on Sharif-Aminu.


The Concerned Nigerians’ Public Relations Officer (PRO), Theophilus Abu Agada, said the court’s sentence was an abuse of human rights and also repulsive to natural justice, equity and good conscience and a gross violation of his rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression. He said: “We condemn in strong terms, the death sentence by hanging for a Kanobased artiste, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad.


“The injustice faced by non-religious and even religious people in some parts of Nigeria is unbecoming. Every Nigerian, irrespective of their belief, should be allowed to practice whatever they believe without being arrested, detained and sentenced to death. “It is hypocritical on the part of religious and political class to always hound vulnerable Nigerians on trivial matters while they commit the most heinous crimes against God and humanity.”


According to the group, the existence of death penalty for blasphemy was a prime facie violation of the rights to freedom of thought and expression. Agada pointed out that the injustices faced by both religious and non-religious people alike must stop. He ad


ded: “The arrest and detention of Yahaya is a breach of Section 38 of our constitution which states that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.’”


Meanwhile, Ahmad, in a tweet via his verified handle, yesterday said he supported the decision of the court because it complied with the tenets of Islam.


He wrote: “I can’t pretend or keep silent. I support the death penalty for BLASPHEMY. That’s my belief and I do not and will never support #SaveKanoNine.”


However, the judge, Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani, said Sharif-Aminu, who did not deny the charges, could appeal against the verdict. The singer, who is currently in detention, had gone into hiding after he composed the song. Protesters had burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, demanding action against him.


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