Farouq Omar, a 13-year-old boy sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for blasphemy, has appealed the judgment that convicted him at the Kano State High Court.
Omar was convicted on August 10 by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge, who sentenced a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed.
Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, spokesperson for Kano Region Justice Ministry, said the teenager was sentenced to 10 years in prison for making derogatory statements towards Allah.
The development has stirred an outcry among many Nigerians.
In a suit filed at the Kano State High Court on Monday, Kola Alapini, Omar’s counsel, on behalf of the Foundation for Religious Freedom, asked the court to set the judgment aside.
The respondents in the appeal included the Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, Commissioner of Police and the Attorney-General of the state.
According to a copy of the court document seen by SaharaReporters, the teenager pleaded that the court should set aside the judgment because the law used to convict him was unconstitutional and conflicts with the Nigerian constitution, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He added that the Sharia law is only applicable and permissible in Islamic theocracies or countries whose constitution allows for such laws and not in Nigeria — a secular state with constitutional democracy.
“The offence of blasphemy is no longer a cognisable offence in Nigerian by virtue of Section 10 standing alone or in conjunction with Sections 38 and 39 of the constitution respectively. A capital offence seeking to terminate human life must comply strictly and especially with the right to life provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Kano State government lacks the constitutional authority to adopt legislative mechanism to exclusively compensate Muslims for its lack of performance in providing good order and security by enacting unconstitutional laws that curtail the right to freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and blasphemy laws essentially censored religious opinions, critical expression of human conscience and thoughts and significantly,” he said.
The FRF in a statement condemned the earlier judgment.
“On Monday, 7th September, 2020 we on behalf of the Foundation for Religious Freedom successfully filed an appeal with number K/40CA/2020 on behalf of Omar Farouq at the Kano State High Court.
“Omar Farouq is a 13-year-old boy (a minor in the eyes of the law) sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with menial labour for blasphemy. In the same Sharia court in Filin Hockey, Kano, by the same judge that sentenced Yahaya Sharif-Aminu. Both boys were convicted the same day.
“This is a violation of the African Charter of the rights and welfare of a vhild. A violation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Kano State Government will have their day in court,” the group said.