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Blasphemy: Appeal court overturns Umar Farouk’s 10-year sentence

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Umar Farouk sentenced last year to 10 years’ jail for “blasphemy” by Sharia court in Kano had his sentence overturned on Thursday by the state’s appeal court.

“The judgement of the sharia court is hereby nullified for lack of credibility and considering the appellant is a minor,” the court said in a judgement seen by AFP.

Aged just 13 when he was sentenced, Farouk “is hereby discharged and acquitted”, they added.

The court applying Islamic sharia law, enforced in some Muslim-majority states in northern Nigeria, sentenced Farouk to 10 years’ forced labour after convicting him of blaspheming during an argument with a friend.

Its ruling sparked international condemnation from governments and rights groups.

The US in December designated Nigeria a “Country of Particular Concern” over religious freedom.

Also Thursday, the Kano court ordered a retrial for a 22-year-old musician, Yahaya Aminu Sherif.

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He had been sentenced to death by the same sharia court for blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammed in a song.

Sherif did not have legal representation during his trial, the Kano court found, adding that he should be tried by a different judge this time.

People marched in Kano in March last year when his song was first released, burning the singer’s family home and calling for his arrest.

Sherif’s death sentence was the second issued for blasphemy since the adoption of sharia law in several northern Nigerian states in the early 2000s, with Islamic courts operating in parallel to the state justice system.

Abdul Nyass, who belonged to the same Sufi order as Sherif, was convicted of blasphemy by a Kano sharia court in 2015.


Vanguard News Nigeria

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