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Court orders retrial of condemned Sheriff, acquits jailed Umar

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Shariff

Kano State Court of Appeal has upturned the death sentence passed on Yahaya Sheriff, for allegedly producing work found derogatory to Prophet Muhammed.

It also discharged and acquitted Faruq Umar, who was earlier jailed 10 years with hard labour for allegedly uttering foul language against God.

Aliyu Kani, a Khadi of Kano Upper Sharia Court, found Sheriff and Umar guilty of blasphemy under Section 382 of Sharia Penal Code, 2000.

Delivering judgment on their appeals yesterday, Justice Nasiru Saminu held that the ruling of the lower court lacked merit and found with irregularities.

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Although, Justice Saminu ordered remittance of Sheriff’s case for retrial at another Sharia court, he declared that the accused was not afforded legal representation.

Ruling that Sheriff ought to have provided with legal representation by government, even if he was unable to afford one, the judge considered the hearing of the Sharia court without legal representation for the accused as against Section 269 of Administration of Criminal Justice of Nigeria.

On Umar’s 10-year sentence, the judge also held that lack of legal representation for the accused nullified the case.

Faulting the sentence, Saminu noted that Section 382 of Kano State Sharia penal code of 2000, under which Umar was charged, enunciated only one year imprisonment with an option of N20,000 fine.

The judge, who directed immediate discharge and acquittal of Faruq, also ruled in favour of the accused, who was only 13 years old when he committed the said offence.

Reacting to the judgment, Kano State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Abdullahi Musa, said the judgment finally affirmed the legality of Sharia penal code of Kano.

The Commissioner, who accepted the declaration of the court on the two accused persons, however, submitted that the government was prepared to provide legal representation to the accused.

The appellant, Kola Alapini, on his part, said that the legal team was prepared to pursue justice on Sheriff’s case to the Supreme Court.

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