THE United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has criticized the judgment of Kano Upper Sharia Court sentencing a 13-year-old boy, identified as Umar Farouq, to 10 years in prison for making deprecatory statements toward Allah in an argument he had with his friend.
The 13-year-old was convicted on 10 August 2020 by Aliyu Kanu, who happens to be the same judge that sentenced Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a Musician, to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed.
The spokesman for Kano Region Justice Ministry, Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, said the court handed down the death sentence as stated in Islamic laws based on undeniable evidence and the convict’s pleading guilty.
it was learned that although Farouq is a minor by Nigerian law and should not have been tried as an adult, Islamic laws regard anyone who has begun puberty as an adult.
The Kano, Islamic Sharia courts in Muslim northern Nigerian state, courts functions alongside civil courts and was introduced Sharia law in 2000.
However, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has condemned the blasphemy laws in Nigeria.
The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan Federal Government entity established by the US Congress to monitor, analyze, and report threats to religious freedom abroad.
the US commission, In a statement, reacted to the judgment, condemning the death sentence handed to Sharif-Aminu for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
Frederick Davie, USCIRF Commissioner, in his statement said, “It is immoral that Sharif-Aminu is facing a death sentence for merely expressing his beliefs through music, said the US Senate should work immediately to pass Resolution 458, which calls for the global repeal of heresy, blasphemy, and apostasy laws.”
Also, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, the President of the African Bar Association, described the sentence on Farouq as unconstitutional, calling on the Attorney General of the Federation to stop the Sharia court from making a mockery of Nigerian on the international scene.
Uwaifo said, “I call on the Attorney General of the Federation to step in and to stop this kind of sectional court from making a mockery of Nigeria.
She said Nigeria is a country where people are stealing billions of naira and being given a pat on the back; then you say someone committed blasphemy, according to your own religion, and then you sentence him to death or sentence a teenager to 10 years’ imprisonment. I think we should stop making a laughing stock.”
Two civil society groups also condemned the judgment by the Shari court.
Ariyo-Dare Atoye, The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Democracy and Constitution, said, “What is coming out of Kano is a challenge to section 10 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. We know that the current Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, is more or less not interested in the religious activities in the country.
Atoye, noted that “What is going on in Kano is an attempt to restructure Nigeria through the back door to create a two-nation in one because the message they are sending to the international community is that there is a part of the country operating a different legal system.”
In the same vein Emmanuel Onwubiko, the National Coordinator, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, said the judgment did not align with human rights conventions and treaties to which Nigeria was a signatory.
Onwubiko, stated, “Section 10 of the constitution prohibits the elevation of any religion as a state religion, so the Kano State government does not have the constitutional rights to legislate Islam as a state religion.”