The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has condemned the sentencing of a 13-year-old boy, Umar Faruk, to 10 years imprisonment with menial job after he was accused of blasphemy in Kano State, northern Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, UNICEF representative in Nigeria said the organisation is deeply concerned about the sentencing.
“The sentencing of this child — 13-year-old Omar Farouk — to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong,” said the representative, Peter Hawkins.
He added that the sentencing,” negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria — and by implication, Kano State — has signed on to.”
Meanwhile, the Kano State Government has refused to reverse the judgment despite condemnation from UNICEF.
BBC Hausa, on Thursday, September 17, 2020, reported that the State Government has said that it will neither interfere nor change the judgement made by the Sharia court on the 13-year-old Umar Faruk.
The Shari’a court in Kano State has convicted Umar Faruk after he was accused of insulting Allah in an argument with a friend.
He was sentenced alongside 22-year old Yahaya Sharif Aminu who was also accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by the Shari’a court on August 10, 2020.
Sharif was found guilty of blasphemy in a song shared on WhatsApp and got circulated in March 2020.
“We found out they were convicted on the same day, by the same judge, in the same court, for blasphemy and we found out no one was talking about Omar, so we had to move quickly to file an appeal for him,” said his lawyer, Kola Alappini told CNN.
He added that, “blasphemy is not recognized by Nigerian law. It is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”
Kano State practices Sharia law alongside secular law. However, a convict has the right to appeal Sharia judgements.
HumAngle reports that 12 states in northern Nigeria also operate the Sharia law, but only Muslims can be tried in its courts.
The Sharia Courts, handle 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.
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