An intensive argument recorded and posted in a WhatsApp group has led to a loss of life penalty sentence and a household torn aside above allegations of insulting Prophet Mohammed, according to lawyers for the defendant.
Music studio assistant Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was sentenced to loss of life by hanging on August 10 following getting convicted of blasphemy by an Islamic court docket in northern Nigeria.
The judgment doc states that Sharif-Aminu, 22, was convicted for generating “a blasphemous assertion against Prophet Mohammed in a WhatsApp Team,” which is contrary to the Kano State Sharia Penal Code and is an offense which carries the dying sentence.
The recording was shared broadly, causing mass outrage in the very conservative, the greater part Muslim, point out, in accordance to various reports.
“Whoever insults, defames or utters words and phrases or acts which are able of bringing into disrespect … this kind of a man or woman has committed a really serious criminal offense which is punishable by dying,” in accordance to a translation of court docket documents delivered to CNN by his lawyers.
Sharif-Aminu, described by his mate Kabiru Ibrahim, as “kind, spiritual and dutiful,” admitted costs of blasphemy all through his trial, but reported he experienced manufactured a mistake.
No lawful representation
Beneath Sharia law, a voluntary confession is binding, according to court papers.
Sharif-Aminu’s attorneys, who became associated in the circumstance only just after his conviction, say he was not permitted authorized representation ahead of or all through his trial in contravention of Nigerian citizens’ constitutional ideal to authorized representation.
According to the lawyers, the Sharia court adjourned his case 4 moments for the reason that no lawyer arrived forth from the Legal Assist Council to signify him, possible for the reason that of the sensitivity of the scenario.
The Sharia court docket is, having said that, statute-certain to give lawful representation. Advocates from the Foundation for Religious Freedom (FRF), a not-for-revenue aimed at guarding spiritual independence in Nigeria, which is symbolizing Sharif-Aminu, explained to CNN he has also not been permitted obtain to lawful guidance to get ready an attractiveness against his conviction.
The FRF suggests it has lodged an attraction on his behalf in Kano’s significant court, a common-law courtroom with constitutional powers.
“The state legal guidelines he is accused of breaking are in gross conflict with the Nigerian constitution,” explained his counsel, Kola Alapinni.
Kano’s Point out Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje instructed clerics in Kano that he would sign Sharif-Aminu’s death warrant as soon as the singer experienced exhausted the appeals method, area media reports say.
“I guarantee you that promptly the Supreme Court affirms the judgment, I will indication it without the need of any hesitation,” Ganduje said, according to Nigeria’s Day-to-day Put up newspaper.
CNN contacted a spokesman for Governor Ganduje several occasions for comment but did not receive a reaction.
Islamic scholar and cleric Bashir Aliyu Umar, who is not linked to the situation, but mentioned he experienced examine the transcript of the court docket proceedings, instructed CNN, “No Muslim will condone it.
People today hold Prophet Mohammed better than their mothers and fathers, and when things like this materialize, it will direct to a breakdown of peace due to the fact of mob action and attacks against the accused.
“When information of Sharif-Aminu’s alleged crime broke before this year, protesters marched to his relatives house and ruined it, prompting his father to flee to a neighboring town, his legal professionals advised CNN.
Sharif-Aminu went into hiding, according to Amnesty and his legal professionals, but in March he was arrested by the Hisbah Corps, the spiritual police pressure that enforces Sharia legislation in Kano condition.
‘A travesty of justice’
Human legal rights corporation Amnesty International has explained Sharif-Aminu’s demo as a “travesty of justice,” and identified as on Kano state authorities to quash his conviction and loss of life sentence.
“There are serious fears about the fairness of his trial and the framing of the expenses in opposition to him primarily based on his Whatsapp messages,” explained Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho.
“Furthermore, the imposition of the demise penalty pursuing an unfair trial violates the ideal to daily life,” she extra.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has also condemned Sharif-Aminu’s death sentence. It reported Nigeria’s blasphemy rules ended up inconsistent with common human rights standards.
“It is unconscionable that Sharif-Aminu is going through a death sentence merely for expressing his beliefs artistically via new music,” said the organization’s commissioner, Frederick A. Davie, in a assertion.
The organization produced a follow-up statement saying it experienced adopted Aminu-Sharif as “a spiritual prisoner of conscience.”
Atheism frowned on
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation and religion permeates each side of daily life in this article, with prayers routinely claimed in educational facilities and general public offices.
In addition to blasphemy, atheism is frowned on by a lot of in the bulk Muslim north as effectively as in pieces of the mostly Christian south.Human legal rights groups have expressed worry in excess of a crackdown on independence of speech and expression, notably when it arrives to religion.
On April 28 this 12 months, Mubarak Bala, president of the Nigerian humanist association, was arrested in Kaduna, yet another northern condition, soon after allegedly putting up a information on his Fb webpage saying that a Nigerian evangelical preacher was far better than the Prophet Mohammed.
Stoning, amputations, flogging
Sharia law has been practiced alongside secular law in quite a few northern Nigerian states since they have been reintroduced in 1999.
Nigeria’s Sharia courts can also sentence people convicted of offenses to stoning, amputations, and flogging when the previous two are no lengthier carried out, “flogging is a pretty prevalent punishment for many crimes, especially theft,” in accordance to the USCIRF.
Only one loss of life sentence handed by Sharia courts has been carried out, according to Human Legal rights Check out. Sani Yakubu Rodi was hanged in 2002 for the murder of a female, her 4-yr-old son, and little one daughter.
A constitutional violation?
In the eyes of numerous Nigerians, the adoption of Sharia law is a violation of the country’s structure, for the reason that Article 10 guarantees spiritual freedom when it states that “the Governing administration of the Federation or of a Point out shall not adopt any faith as State Faith.”
“This situation of blasphemy is incompatible with the Nigerian structure,” Leo Igwe, chair of the board of trustees for the Humanist Affiliation of Nigeria, instructed CNN.
“We hope this circumstance will enable Nigeria confront the greatest constitutional problem given that independence. What need to take precedence, Sharia law, or the Nigerian structure?
Governors of the northern states, exactly where Sharia legislation is practiced, argue that it applies only to Muslims, and not to citizens of other faiths.
The FRF claims it is doing the job on 6 other constitutional conditions which will problem what it sees as govt interference in Nigerian citizens’ proper to spiritual independence.
A person of these, on behalf of the Atheist Society of Nigeria (ASN), is against the condition govt of Akwa Ibom, in the country’s southeast, for its involvement in the development of an 8,500-seat worship heart at its Superior Courtroom.
The ASN suggests hundreds of thousands of dollars in point out funding have been expended on the centre, which it states amounts to governing administration interference in independence of religion.
“The govt has no enterprise legislating on religions. Stop of story,” Ebenezer Odubule, a founding member of the FRF informed CNN.
The FRF claims it has experienced to place some of its other scenarios on maintain, to focus on Sharif-Aminu’s circumstance. It is also hampered by a absence of funding to fight new conditions.