Court reserves judgement on Sheriff, Umar Faruq blasphemy appeal
A Kano High Court on Thursday has reserved the judgement on the appeal hearing of the Kano Shari’a Court that sentenced Sheriff Yahaya to death and Umar Faruq to 13 years in prison for blasphemy.
Both convicts had accepted guilty to the charge as ruled by the upper Shari’a courts sitting in Kano, though at separate sittings.
A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Kola Alapini, had filed the appeal against Kano State government and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kano State, to challenge the lower court judgement.
Faruq, 13, was convicted after he was accused of using foul language toward Allah in an argument with a friend, while Yahaya was sentenced to death by hanging for making “a blasphemous statement against Prophet Mohammed in a WhatsApp Group,” which is contrary to the Kano State Sharia Penal Code and is an offence which carries the death sentence.
During the ruling on Thursday, Alapini argued that the trial court was wrong to find the convict guilt in the first place because the accused was not allowed a legal representation.
Barr. Kola insisted that Sheriff was not given a fair hearing during the trial which he considered unconstitutional and such a ruling should not stand.
Although, the human rights lawyer maintained the state under the constitution was allowed to operate its own peculiar laws but argued that no law should superimpose the country’s constitution.
The appellant, therefore, asked the court to dismiss the judgment of the trial court.
Responding, the respondent applicant, Barr. Aisha Mahmud had sought the court to discountenance the appellant argument for inconsistency and lacking in merit.
The principal state counsel who maintained that the state was constitutional empowered to establish and operate its own laws, urged the court of appeal to affirm the conviction of the lower court as delivered on both cases.
Governor Abdullah Umar Ganduje had vowed to sign the death warrant of Sheriff, had Yahaya’s failed to secure an appeal to his death sentence within the limit and expiration of the 30 days grace period.