Save Kano Nine from Nigerian Sharia Courts Death Sentence for Blasphemy!
Posted: Sun, 02 Aug 2015 07:00
The National Secular Society has joined other secularist organisations in calling for a full pardon and civil protection for nine people recently sentenced to death by a Sharia court in Nigeria.
The letter, organised by the Secular Policy Institute, expresses deep concerns over the death sentences handed out for blasphemy and appeals to the Nigerian President, Governor, and Ambassador to ensure the preservation of the individuals’ rights of free conscience and religious expression.
The so-called ‘Kano Nine’ were sentenced to death by a sharia court in the Nigerian state of Kano after what the BBC described as a “speedily done” and “secret” trial.
The charges centred around claims that the nine accused said that Niasse, the founder of the Tijaniya sect, was “bigger than [the] Prophet Muhammad”.
The nine are alleged to have made the comment at a religious gathering held to honour Niasse, in a venue which was burnt down by a mob before the nine (eight men and one woman) were arrested by police over the accusations.
The head of the religious police in Kano told the BBC: “We quickly put them on trial to avoid bloodshed because people were very angry and trying to take law into their hands.”
There were reports of celebrations across parts of the city when the death sentences were announced.
The Secular Policy Institute note that “comments by local-authorities expressing relief at stemming further vigilante acts” give the impression that the verdicts were the result of “political expedience rather than a fair administration of justice.”
The ‘Kano Nine’ are “being sacrificed to pacify a mob”, the signatories write.
There was extreme secrecy around the trial, and even the names of all of the accused are not known.
Nigeria operates two countervailing jurisprudences – Customary and Sharia. The Customary Criminal code would call for a maximum two-year sentence for purported violation, with the Sharia code specifying a death sentence.
The letter argues that at the very least the State should uphold civil over religious law.
The BBC gives some background:
Nigeria court in Kano sentences nine people to death for blasphemy
An Islamic court has sentenced nine people to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.
The accused, who were all Muslims, had pleaded guilty, the head of Kano’s religious police, Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, told the BBC.
The trial was speedily done in secret after a section of the court was burnt down by angry protesters last month.
It is not known if they will appeal against the sentence.
The alleged offence was committed last month at a religious gathering in honour of Sheikh Ibrahim Niasse, the Senegalese founder of the Tijaniya sect, which has a large following across West Africa.
The nine, eight man and a woman, were reported to have said that “Niasse was bigger than Prophet Muhammad”, triggering unrest.
The venue was burnt to the ground by an angry mob and the nine were arrested,
“There has been consensus among Muslims scholars that insulting the prophet carries a death sentence,” Mr Daurawa told the BBC Hausa service.
“We quickly put them on trial to avoid bloodshed because people were very angry and trying to take law into their hands,” he added.
The case of a recent judgment by an Upper Sharia Court, Rijiyar Lemo, in Kano state, which passed death sentences on nine persons for blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed has caused uproar among Nigerians.
On Thursday, 26th June 2015, a group of Tijjaniyya sect members, during Maulud in Kano, blasphemed the prophet of Islam and the action was followed by widespread protest in the state. It was reported that this barbaric judgement created wild jubilation in certain quarters in Kano, this was further worsened when the Kano Government’s expressed satisfaction at the given verdict. A press release by the government stated that this judgement will serve as a deterrent to others.
After series of hearing, the Kano State Sharia Court of Appeal, in a statement, said the nine were found guilty under Sections 110 and 382B of the Sharia Penal Court law of 2000.
Four other persons namely Alkassim Abubakar, Yahaya Abubakar, Isa Abubakar and Abdullahi Abubakar were discharged and acquitted as they were not found wanting by the court. However, Abdul-Inyas and Hajiya Mairo, with seven others to death, will be executed over a case of Blasphemy once the Kano State Governor appends his signature on their execution form.
Reacting to the judgement, Nigerians on Wednesday took to Twitter to appeal for the sentence to be overturned.
Using #SaveKanoNine hashtag, many have called on the intervention of President Buhari and higher-placed individuals and bodies such as Amnesty International to interfere.