Blasphemy: Kano musician freed of death penalty appeals against retrial

A 22-year-old Kano musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who was recently freed of death penalty passed on him for blasphemy, has filed an appeal against a retrial for the same offence.

The appellate division of the High Court of Kano State had on January 21 quashed the death sentence passed on Mr Sharif-Aminu by an Upper Sharia Court in August last year.

But the High Court, which cited irregularities in the Sharia Court’s previous trial, ordered that Mr Aminu-Sharif be tried afresh by the same court.

The High Court’s judgment was delivered by a panel of two judges, comprising the Chief Judge of Kano state, Nuraddeen Umar, and Nasiru Saminu.

Sharif-Aminu, however, Monday, filed two grounds of appeal against the High Court’s decision, insisting that he ought to be discharged and acquitted instead of being ordered to be subjected to a fresh trial.

“The learned judges misdirected themselves in law when they annulled the judgment of the trial court and then ordered for a retrial at the shari’a court in Hauswa-Filin Hockey instead of granting the defendant a discharge and an acquittal,” the appellant’s lawyer, Kola Alapinni, argued in his client’s notice of appeal.

Alapinni argued that under the Nigerian criminal law system, “the defendant is entitled to a discharge and an acquittal” where “the prosecution fails to prove his case beyond reasonable doubt.”

In the second grounds of appeal, the lawyer argued that Sharia law, which the trial court applied in sentencing his client to death for blasphemy, was not constitutional.

Alapinni contended that the High Court judges’ decision validating Sharia law as constitutional in Nigeria was wrong.

He said Sharia law was only applicable in Islamic countries practising theocracy and not in Nigeria, a secular state, running a constitutional democracy.

He argued that Sharia law being unconstitutional, the offence of blasphemy, too, was also inconsistent with the Nigerian Constitution.

“The offence of blasphemy is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of section 10 standing alone or in conjunction with section 38 of the Constitution, respectively.

“The Penal Sharia Code Law 2000 of Kano State or any Penal Sharia Code Law in Nigeria is inconsistent with section 10 and section 38 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Sharif-Aminu, a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was on August 11, 2020, sentenced to death by an Upper Sharia Court for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet of Islam in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.

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