Sentencing a boy child to 10 years in prison with manual labour by Nigerian Sharia Court for religious blasphemy right?. Image credit: mnnonline.org
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Is it right for a Nigerian court to have sentenced a child to 10 years in prison with manual labour for religious blasphemy?
Religious blasphemy against Islam, unconnected to the state law, is punishable by death but subject to approval by the state governor.
An Islamic scholar, Is-haq Abdulganiyy, said that the Islamic Sharia Law does not consider the age of an offender.
UNICEF said it will appeal the judgement having breached the core principles of children’s rights and justice in Nigeria
A human rights lawyer, Martin Obono, said the Nigerian Constitution which gives the right to freedom of expression is superior to Sharia Law that binds the northern Nigerian Muslims
A Nigerian court upheld a 10-year prison sentence with manual labour for a child convicted of religious blasphemy.
The boy named Omar Farouq aged 13 was convicted in August by The Sharia Court in the north-west Nigerian state of Kano for using a foul language against Allah during an argument with a friend, according to a media report.
The prison sentence for Omar Farouq is regarded as one of the numerous controversial cases recently passed by the state-sanctioned Sharia Court.
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Also in August, human rights groups objected the death sentence by hanging of a 22-year-old musician, Yahaya Aminu, for singing a blasphemous song against the Muslim Prophet Mohammed – the central figure of the Islamic religion.
Both judgements were based on the provisions of Sharia Law. Sharia law applies mostly in the 12 principally Muslim states in northern Nigeria.
An Islamic scholar Is-haq Abdulganiyy said that other criteria, not the age of an offender, are considered before any judgment is passed.
In support of the judgement, Is-haq Abdulganiyy said that the Islamic Sharia Law does not consider the age of an offender and the Sharia Court must have followed all the necessary investigations to know the boy is deemed fit to get the 10 years imprisonment.
A statement from United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) this week strongly condemned the sentence, saying it breached core principles of children’s rights and justice in Nigeria.
The U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) then called on the Nigerian government to immediately review and reverse the sentence.
Milen Kidane, the chief of child protection at UNICEF Nigeria, said that the case has received global condemnation and that UNICEF wants to appeal the court’s ruling.
The UNICEF Nigerian’s child protection chief assured that UNICEF is committed to actions to reconsider the judgement to a fair hearing including through appeal and child-sensitive judiciary measures that respect the fundamental rights of the child.
Martin Obono, a human rights lawyer, also said he opposes such court rulings.
Mr Obono explained that the Sharia Law which binds the northern Nigerian Muslims is an inferior law to the Nigerian constitution which gives the right to freedom of expression.
Blasphemy against Islam, though a religious affair that has nothing to do with the state in the real sense, is theoretically punishable by death according to Sharia Law, the death penalty is subject to approval by the state governor.
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