A Sharia Court in Kano, on Monday, sentenced a 30-year-old singer, Sharif Yahaya Aminu, to death by hanging for blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).
The court sitting at Hausawa Filin Hockey, presided over by Khadi Muhammad Ali Kani, gave the verdict after finding Sharif guilty of the offence.
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With only a few journalists and security agents allowed entry into the court, Daily Trust gathered from one of those that were allowed entry that the convict “almost fainted when the judge was pronouncing the judgment.”
Daily Trust reports that there was heavy security presence at the court’s premises.
The convict was arraigned on a one-count charge of insulting religious creed, contrary to Section 382 (6) of the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law 2000.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) sighted by our correspondents, the convict committed the offence via a WhatsApp post on February 28, 2020, in which he called the Holy prophet a ‘mushrik (proclaiming other gods)’.
A mushrik, according to askislampedia.com, “is a person who believes in another deity together with Allah The Almighty, and who demonstrates this by dedicating acts of worship, such as kneeling, prostration, supplication, slaughtering or any other act of worship, to a being other than Allah The Almighty.”
Other online definitions said the term is used interchangeably with the word kafir, an Arabic word meaning infidel or unbeliever.
The prosecutor, Inspector Aminu Yargoje, told the court that the said post was intended to create ill feelings among the Muslim faithful in the state.
According to the FIR, “On 28 February between the hours of 20:00hrs to 23:50 hours, you Sharif Yahaya Aminu, (M) 30 years old, Muslim of No 26 Sharifai Quarters Kano, with an intention to hurt the feelings of Muslim faithful made a post via a WhatsApp group named Gidan Umma Abiha, some abusive and degrading audio statements in which you called Prophet Muhammad S.A.W atheist, mushrik, who propagates shirk and whose position is lower than that of Inyass in the hereafter.”
The prosecutor told Daily Trust that the convict had 30 days from Monday (yesterday) to appeal the ruling.
Clerics, residents react
A Kano-based Islamic cleric of the Izala sect, Sheikh Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, said the court’s judgment would ensure peace and stability in the state.
Daurawa, who is also the immediate-past commander-general of Kano State Hisbah Board, explained that religion, people’s lives and wealth are part of the things that must be safeguarded for peace to reign.
He said, “If the government should punish any offender who is sensible and has accepted his offense and has been tried by a competent court of jurisdiction, there will certainly be peace in society. But, if the constituted authorities decide to let these culprits go unpunished, it could lead to anarchy and people may decide to take laws into their hands.
“There would certainly be a reduction in crime if offenders of such crimes are punished, especially something that affects religion.
“The punishment will restore the people’s confidence in the Shari’a law and will serve as deterrence to others who may wish to offend what more than 1.5 billion people believe in globally.
“The verdict will also help parents to teach their children to know the value of religion and not offend anybody’s religion,” Sheikh Daurawa added.
Similarly, another cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Nur Arzai of the Tijjaniyya sect, said the verdict was in consonance with Islamic provisions on blasphemy.
“So long as the court has tried the offender and found him guilty of the offense, his punishment is an execution by the constituted authority.
“For blasphemous offenses, even if the offender has regretted his act and asked for forgiveness, he should not be forgiven. Nobody should carry such an offence and go unpunished”, Sheikh Arzai added.
A resident, Amadu Mustapha, said though the judgment sounded unusual, it was the right one.
“He has done wrong and has to face the consequences; at least others will learn a lesson. This needs to stop now; people have been doing things out of knowledge, just off the head. The prophet, PBUH has to be respected above all humans, so whoever crosses the boundaries of the prophet has to be punished,” he said.
On his part, Balarabe Yusif Babale Gajida, who is the Chairman of Muryar Talaka Awareness Initiative, said “The reason why people are taking the law into their hands before now is that those that did what he did now are going freely without a verdict. I hope the governor will execute it.”
Also, the Director, Global Community for Human Rights Network, Karibu Yahaya Lawan Kabara, said if the blasphemy was against an ordinary person with no wider followership, under Section 392 of the penal code, the punishment is two years imprisonment.
However, when the blasphemy is against the prophet or his companions, the state’s Shari’ah penal code has prescribed the death penalty as punishment, adding that as such, the court’s judgment was in consonance with the extant law.
Idris Ibrahim, the leader of protesters that called for the prosecution of the convict earlier in March, expressed satisfaction with the court’s verdict, saying it was long overdue.
He commended the state Hisbah board and the state government over their doggedness in seeing that the culprit was punished
“Recently, there have been almost four to five cases of blasphemy here in Kano and people have been worried that none of them was punished, but Alhamdulillah now the court has decided the fate of one of them; people will at least have peace of mind.
“Though we learnt the offender has the right to appeal the judgment, we pray that even if he eventually does, he won’t succeed,” Ibrahim added.
Like Nyas like Aminu
The social media post, which booked Aminu a date with the hangman, had elicited wild protest in Kano early March where aggrieved youths who considered it blasphemous tried to burn down the family house of the singer.
The song by Yahaya Sharif Aminu was not the first to evoke people’s emotions in the state as in December 2015, another singer, Abdul Nyas released a similar song expressing disrespect to Almighty Allah as a result of which Kano State government dragged him to court.
Maryam Sayyada and others, who were Nyas accomplice in committing the crime, were first arraigned before an Upper Shari’ah Court at Rijiyar Lemo, by the state government, after Nyas fled the state following an uproar caused by their action.
Nyas was later arrested in Abuja and returned for prosecution. He was later sentenced to death by hanging by the Upper Shari’ah Court.
He, however, appealed the judgment at a Kano State High Court. After hearing the appeal, the High Court judges, Justices Yusuf Muhammad Ubale and Hadiza Sulaiman affirmed the Sharia’h court’s judgment but he appealed the High Court ruling again at the Court of Appeal in Kaduna.
It was learnt that the appeal court has not commenced hearing the appeal filed before it by Nyas challenging the verdicts of the two lower courts.
Nyas is currently under the custody of Kurmawa Correctional Centre, in Kano State.