A 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq, sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for blasphemy in Kano State, has appealed the judgement of the Sharia Court that convicted him.
The Foundation for Religious Freedom filed the appeal on behalf of the teenager at the Kano State High Court on Monday.
In the notice of appeal, the rights organisation included the Kano Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and the attorney general of the state as respondents.
While the judgement of Allyu Kani of Kano Upper Shari’a Court sentenced Farouq to jail, a musician, Sharif-Aminu, was also sentenced to death by hanging for “blasphemy” against Prophet Muhammad on August 10.
The duo were convicted based on Section 382 (b) of Kano penal code of 2000 after they were accused of committing blasphemy against the prophet of Islam.
The FRF had earlier appealed the verdict of the court in Mr Sharif-Aminu’s case.
The state governor had indicated his willingness to quickly sign the death warrant once all legal options had been explored by Mr Sharif-Aminu.
The FRF described Farouq’s incarceration as a violation of the African Charter of the Rights And Welfare of a Child and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria “because he is minor in the eyes of the Law”.
“The Appellant the conviction and sentencing by the Upper Sharia Court of Kano State pursuant to the kano State Penal Code Law 2000 were unconstitutional, null vod, having grossly violated and conflicted with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended and having violated the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights respectively.”
The rights group also argued that the offence of blasphemy is no longer an offence in Nigerian constitution.
“The constitutional principle of separation between government and religion enshrined at Sections 10 and 38 of the constitution prohibit government from adopting religion or making laws restricting religious freedom and also prohibits government from making laws to advance or promote any religious interest.
“The State was quick to charge the accused for blasphemy but failed, neglected and refused to provide him legal representation despite the existing framework for legal aid in Kano State.
“The Penal Sharia Code Law 2000 of Kano state or any Penal Sharia Code Law in Nigeria has no constitutional foundation since it is a law with the sole aim of advancing and placating Islamic religious interests and same is apparently opened to political and class manipulations of citizens be they Muslims or non-Muslims.”
Several activists and rights groups have demanded the reversal of the judgements against the two individuals.
“This is a travesty of justice. There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial; and the framing of the charges against him based on his music. Furthermore, the imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial violates the right to life. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Amnesty International Nigeria country director, Osai Ojigho, said in a press statement.