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‘People should leave Shariff-Aminu’s case for muslims’

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Muslim clerics have asked non-Muslims not to dabble into the ongoing prosecution of Yahaya Shariff-Aminu, rather it should be left for the Muslims to handle.

In August 2020, a Kano musician, Shariff-Aminu, 22, was accused of blaspheming against Prophet Mohammed in his song, which did not go down well with Muslim faithful. He was sentenced to death by hanging by an Upper Sharia Court in Kano. Following the judgment, Shariff-Aminu filed an appeal before a Kano State High Court, challenging the Sharia Law, as practised in the state as unconstitutional and undemocratic. The state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje was quoted as saying he would sign the convict’s death warrant, and the matter became a public issue, which has generated reaction from Civil Society Organisations

Speaking with The Guardian, Head, Department of Islamic Law, University of Ilorin, Professor AbdulRazzaq Alaro, wondered why people should make a mountain out of a molehill.

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The Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Professor Ishaq Akintola also toed the line of Alaro when he said the matter is a Muslim affair and people should leave Muslims to do their thing.

In Alaro’s view, the matter is very simple, in that the accused, a Muslim, who was tried by a Sharia Court and in line with both substantive and procedural laws of his religion, was exercising his fundamental right of freedom of religion, as enshrined in section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). 

He said those supporting Shariff-Aminu are mischievously claiming that his act of blasphemy amounted to an exercise of freedom of opinion, which is also constitutionally guaranteed.

Akintola said: “People should leave Muslims alone. Leave Kano State affairs for the people of Kano and leave Sharia matters for the Muslims. It is our law, not yours. Why are some Christians fond of taking panadol overdose for the headache of Muslims?

“The culprit is a Muslim, and Muslim law has been applied on him. Are they trying to say they love him more than his Muslim brothers? Of course, we know that is not what they are saying. They just want to fault the Islamic legal system,” Akinola said.

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Alaro said: “Shariff-Aminu’s supporters should be educated that under the law, there is nothing called ‘absolute freedom.’ Section 45 of the Constitution lists many restrictions to and derogations from the Fundamental Rights, including the right to freedom of opinion under section 39 of the same Constitution.

“Interestingly, section 45 (1) (b) categorically mentions “for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons” as one reason for restricting one’s Fundamental Rights under the law. The implication therefore, is that the Kano singer ought to know that the rights of his fellow citizens in Kano and other states in Nigeria must also be protected against any abuse, especially one that is capable of igniting violence and chaos in such a highly religious society.

“I think we need to commend the judiciary and the law enforcement agents in Kano for quickly rising to the challenge, by apprehending the suspect and charging him to a competent court of law under the extant law of the state, duly passed by its House of Assembly. If we fail to appreciate this, then we are simply calling for anarchy, where people will take the law into their own hands and apply jungle justice. And I believe not quite long ago, we have witnessed instances of such extrajudicial killings on account of the same crime: blasphemy,” Alaro stated.

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