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Group flays death sentence on Kano-based musician

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Pro-democracy and human rights group, Concerned Nigerians, has condemned the death sentence on 22-year-old musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, by a Sharia court in Kano State “for blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.”

The spokesman, Theophilus Agada, stated yesterday that the death by hanging slammed on the young artiste was repulsive to natural justice, equity and good conscience.

He said: “The injustice faced by non-religious and even religious people in some parts of Nigeria is unbecoming. Every Nigerian, irrespective of their belief, should be allowed to practise whatever they believe without being arrested, detained and sentenced to death.

“It is hypocritical on the part of religious and political class to always hound vulnerable Nigerians on trivial matters while they commit the most heinous crimes against God and humanity.”

The group argued that the existence of death penalty for blasphemy was a prima facie violation of the rights to freedom of thought and expression, pointing out how the injustices faced by both religious and non-religious people alike must stop.

“The arrest and detention of Yahaya is a breach of Section 38 of our constitution, which states that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.’

“It is fundamental that the Nigerian government, Kano and other states in northern Nigeria take into cognisance Section 10 of our constitution which states: ‘The government of the federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion.’ Yahaya, by law, has not committed any crime against the state or any person or group of persons to warrant a death sentence by hanging,” it added.

According to the group, international law permits death penalty only in exceptional circumstances and requires incontrovertible evidence of intentional murder.

Carrying out the death sentence by hanging of Mr. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad by upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of Kano would amount to arbitrary killing, the group insisted.


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