SOME rights experts with the mandate of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday urged Nigeria to overturn the death sentence passed on a Kano State-based singer for blasphemy.
“Nigeria should overturn the death sentence and guarantee the singer’s safety while he launched an appeal,” the group said, adding, “music is not a crime”.
Yahaya Aminu Sharif, 22, was condemned to death on August 10 by a Khadi Allyu Muhammad Kani of the Kano Upper Sharia Court after he shared on WhatsApp a song considered to have blasphemed Prophet Mohammad.
The singer has appealed the judgment, joining the state governor Abdullahi Ganduje, and the Attorney General as respondents.
Ganduje said he would sign the death warrant after all legal options have been explored.
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“Application of the death penalty for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the internet is a flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution,” said Karima Bennoune, Special Rapporteur of the UN.
Protesters enraged by the song burned down Sharif’s family home on March 4.
There was no immediate reaction from the judicial authorities in Kano, which runs sharia alongside civil courts.
The state’s justice system has been in the spotlight since a sharia court also sentenced a 13-year-old boy to 10 years in prison in August, accused of making blasphemous statements during an argument.