The musician, who is a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was accused of committing blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020. Irate youths burnt down his family home and led a protest to the Sharia Police, Hisbah, demanding Sharif Aminu’s death.
The musician, who went into hiding, was arrested, hurriedly tried and convicted for breaching Section 382 (b) of Kano penal code of 2000 which is based on Islamic law.
Some human rights lawyers in Kano told this newspaper that many lawyers were refusing to take up Sharif-Aminu’s case because of the volatile nature of Kano State.
An activist said, “Most of the human right lawyers in Kano that I have asked to take up the case have refused to do so out of fear. Most of them are afraid that their chambers could be burnt down by youths or they could be attacked or killed for defending a blasphemer. Ironically, some of these lawyers support the death sentence handed down to the convict and are refusing to take action.
“And of course, when it comes to such sensitive religious matters, the police are usually complicit or they look the other way. The political leaders also keep mute or come out to support Sharia because they want to remain popular among their people.”
The Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria which is very active in Kano and other states practising Sharia, had recently endorsed the death sentence handed down to the musician, stating that the trial was fair and in line with the laws of the state.
However, global rights group, Amnesty International, had said in a statement that the musician, from all indication, was not given a fair hearing.
“This is a travesty of justice. There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial; and the framing of the charges against him based on his WhatsApp messages. Furthermore, the imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial violates the right to life. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International Nigeria country director.