Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a popular Kano musician has been sentenced to death by hanging under the state’s Shari’a law.
The Kano Upper Shari’a Court found the 22-year-old man guilty of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad in a song he circulated through WhatsApp sometimes in March.
After Sharif-Aminu released the song, droves of furious protesters burned down his family home located at Sharifai quarters in the Kano Municipal Local Government Area and led a procession to the Kano Hisbah Command’s headquarters in protest against the singer’s action.
The Presiding Judge, Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani also sentenced one Umar Farouq of Sharada quarters in Kano metropolis to 10-year imprisonment for making “derogatory statements concerning the Almighty Allah in a public argument.”
Protesters had called for action against the musician
While addressing the protesters on March 4, the Kano Hisbah Commander, Harun Ibn-Sina, said officials in the state were on top of the situation and that the man’s parents had been arrested and were under Police custody.
He further counselled the youths to resist the urge to take law into their own hands.
The protesters alleged that the nonchalant attitude of the government and the security agents in the state over the issue informed their decision to embark on the protest.
The convener of the protest, Idris Ibrahim (popularly known as Baba Idris), said, “Our mission is to alert the government to do the needful; otherwise, we will take the law into our own hands.”
Idris, who said similar incidents had occurred in the state without any action from the relevant authorities, warned that they would not allow Sharif-Aminu’s case to go unpunished.
Investigations revealed that the singer, said to be a follower of Tijjaniya sect, is a member of Faidha group, who are known for their preference of Ibrahim Nyass (a famous Senegalese Islamic scholar), over Prophet Muhammad.
Few people had heard of him before his arrest in March.
How common are death sentences in Sharia courts?
There have been several sentences passed, including for women convicted of having extramarital s.ex – cases which have caused widespread condemnation.
But only one has been carried out, according to Human Rights Watch – a man convicted of killing a woman and her two children who was hanged in 2002.
The last time a Nigerian Sharia court passed a death sentence was in 2016 when Abdulazeez Inyass, was sentenced to death for blaspheming against Islam during after a secret trial in Kano.
Umar Ganduje, Kano State Governor
He was alleged to have said that Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the Senegalese founder of the Tijaniya sect, which has a large following across West Africa, “was bigger than Prophet Muhammad”.
The sentence has not been carried out as a death penalty in Nigeria requires the sign-off of the state governor.
Mr Inyass is still in detention.
How Nigeria’s Sharia courts work
Twelve states in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north operate the Sharia system of justice, but only Muslims can be tried in its courts.
The Sharia system, which also has its own Court of Appeal, handles both civil and criminal matters involving Muslims and its judgements can also be challenged in Nigeria’s secular Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
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 where they want the case to be tried. 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.