Yahaya Aminu-Sharif has been sentenced to death by an Islamic court in the northern Nigeria city of Kano on Monday
The 22-year-old Muslim singer was accused of blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated on WhatsApp in March
Aminu-Sharif’s song praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood
Song critics claimed it gave the imam higher status than the Prophet Muhammad
Angry Muslim youths in the ancient Muslim city burnt down Sharif’s family home and demanded the Kano state govt prosecute the singer
Kano is one of the twelve of Nigeria’s 36 states, all in predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, that operate Islamic sharia courts that function alongside civil courts – introduced in 1999
Aminu-Sharif has 30 days to appeal the sentence
Protesters [photo], burnt down Yahaya Aminu Sharif’s family home in the city of Kano, in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north demanding prosecution of the young Islamic musician for blasphemy, leading to his arrest and subsequent conviction
A Muslim singer has been sentenced to death by an Islamic court in north Nigeria for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated on WhatsApp.
Yahaya Aminu-Sharif, 22, a resident of Kano city in the state capital Kano, was handed the death sentence on Monday.
An upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state said Sharif-Aminu, 22, was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020. The defendant did not deny the charges.
Muslim singer Yahaya Aminu Sharif, [photo], 22, has been sentenced to death by an Islamic court in north of Nigeria for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated on WhatsApp
In his ruling on Monday, the Shari’a court Khadi, Aliyu Muhammad Kani, found Sharif guilty of the one-count charge bordering on derogatory comment contained in one of his Kani told the condemned man that he could appeal against the verdict.
The song, that Aminu-Sharif shared on the messaging platform in March, caused riots throughout the ancient city of Kano, one of the largest cities in the country.
Sharif’s action gained national attention March 4, when hundreds of angry Muslim youths stormed the Kano Hisbah, the Islamic police, board headquarters to protest what they considered an assault on prophet Muhammad.
The protesters accused Kano state government and security agencies of undue protection and failure to act appropriately against Aminu-Sharif.
Protesters in Kano stormed the Islamic singer’s family home and razed it to the ground because he’d gone into hiding
The irate youths had earlier descended on the singer’s family home. The home was razed when the mob discovered the singer had gone into hiding.
Protesters burnt down the musician’s family home demanding his prosecution, leading to his arrest.
The singer had gone into hiding after sharing the song, which praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood to the point where it accorded him higher status than the Prophet Muhammad.
The prosecutor, Inspector Aminu Yargoje, described the verdict as fair, and said it would prevent future blasphemy in the state.
Islamic gospel musician Aminu-Sharif belongs to a separate branch of Tijaniyya Sufi order.
Their beliefs are considered dissident because of their different interpretation of some basic Islamic principles.
Guards at the court barred journalists from speaking to Sharif after the sentencing, but a court spokesman said he has 30 days to lodge an appeal.
‘The court handed down the death sentence as enshrined in Islamic laws based on irrefutable evidence and the convict’s admission of guilt,’ Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, spokesman for the Kano state ministry of justice, said.
The court also sentenced a 13-year-old boy, Umar Farouq, to 10 years in prison for making derogatory statements toward Allah in an argument with a friend.
Ibrahim said the court considered the boy’s age as a minor and handed him the prison sentence ‘as a penitence and to make him reform’.
Demonstrators took to the streets demanding the singer be punished for what they say was a blasphemous song, although the Islamic police had appealed for people not to take the law in to their own hands after the song was released on Whatsapp
Twelve of Nigeria’s 36 states, all in the north, operate the Sharia system of justice, but only Muslims can be tried in its courts.
The parallel Sharia system, which also has its own appellate court, handles both civil and criminal matters involving Muslims and its judgement can also be challenged in Nigeria’s secular Appeals Court and the Supreme Court.
Nigerians have taken to social media to record their views on the development, some lodging protests of their own.
One poster wrote ‘No one, they say, deserves to die because of “blasphemy.”
If people are sentenced to death because of what they say about a religion, then what makes the court different from Boko Haram, who also kills in the name of religion?’
Others stress that NOTHING but nothing should warrant the killing of a human being for something they said.
One poster wondered how the state who have refrained from executing Boko Haram terrorists can condemn a man to death because of spoken word
The Sharia judges, known as alkalis, are learned in both Islamic and secular laws.
If a case involves a Muslim and a non-Muslim, the non-Muslim has the option of choosing the jurisdiction, because the Sharia court can only hear the case if the non-Muslim gives written consent.
Sentences handed down by the courts include floggings, amputations and the death penalty. While several capital sentences have been passed, with the courts handing down death sentences for adultery, murder and homosexuality, death sentences for blasphemy are unusual. Furthermore, only one death row inmate has been executed, in 2002 – a man convicted of killing a woman and her two children.
The most recent death penalty for blasphemy was given in 2015 to nine followers of the Tijani Muslim sect who ranked the Senegalese founder of their sect higher than the prophet Mohammed. The men remain on death row.