Civil rights groups and activists on Tuesday reacted angrily to the decision of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano State, which sentenced a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed.
The Convener, Free Nigeria Coalition, Raphael Adebayo, described the development as an assault on state power which he said threatened the legitimacy of Nigeria’s union as a democratic republic.
He said, “Since when did it become okay to murder ordinary people in this country simply because of what they utter or write? It would seem that there is one law for the rich and another one for the poor.
“It is simply unacceptable and this barbarism presents an opportunity for the incumbent government at the federal level to redeem its soul by demonstrating its value for the average Nigerian life, and the supremacy of the Nigerian constitution, above all else.”
Another group, Concerned Nigerians, opposed the judgment, describing it as repulsive to natural justice and abhorrent to equity, good conscience and a gross violation of the convict’s rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression.
The group in a statement on Tuesday by its spokesman, Theophilus Agada, stated, “We condemn in strong terms, the death sentence by hanging on a Kano-based artiste, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu.”
It further argued that the death penalty was a violation of the rights to freedom of thoughts and expression of the citizen, pointing out that the injustices faced by both religious and non-religious people alike must stop.
“The arrest and detention of Yahaya is a breach of Section 38 of our constitution which states that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance,” it stated.