BASHIR Ahmad, Personal Assistant on New Media to President Muhammadu Buhari has come under severe criticism from Nigerians over his support for death penalty as a punishment for blasphemy in Nigeria.
Ahmad had in 2015 written on his Twitter handle, that “I can’t pretend or keep silent. I support the death penalty for BLASPHEMY. That’s my belief and I do not and will never support #SaveKanoNine”
Bashir had used a hashtag #SaveKanoNine that seeks to create awareness on the death sentence passed on a certain Abdul-Inyas and Hajiya Mairo, in a case of blasphemy by a Sharia Court in Kano to make his stance on the case.
Sharif, a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was accused of committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad in a song he shared on WhatsApp in March 2020.
Subsequently, the singer’s home was razed down by angry protesters who marched on to Kano Hisbah command’s headquarters to lay a complaint against the actions of Sharif.
In a verdict delivered by Aliyu Kani, the judge presiding over the case at the Kano Upper Shari’a Court, sentenced Sharif to death by hanging.
He was convicted based on Section 382 (b) of Kano Penal Code of 2000.
Moments after Bashir’s tweet resurfaced on Twitter, Nigerians reacted by calling him out for supporting what they described as inhuman verdict. Many of those who reacted wondered why anyone would want to fight for God by killing another human being.
A journalist, Jonathan Elendu in reaction to Bashir’s tweet said,” If truly you believe he offended God why don’t you allow God to deal with him?”
“You support the death penalty against a human being because of blasphemy. If truly you believe he offended God why don’t you allow God to deal with him? Is this about God or blood lust? I’m sure you know God does not need you or any Judge to fight his battles.”
Elnathan John, a Nigerian novelist and satirist in his reaction called on the United States and United Kingdom governments to place a travel ban on Nigerians advocating for death.
“I hope @USinNigeria @UKinNigeria and others are seeing this. These people advocating for death for Nigerians should not be allowed to travel. There should be consequences for public servants saying these murderous thoughts.”
Fisayo Soyombo, multiple award-winning investigative journalist described Bashir’s comment as a Boko Haram terrorist’s way of reasoning that is unbecoming of a presidential aide.
“Boko Haram-like reasoning by a presidential spokesman,” Soyombo said.
However, some Nigerians also took to their Twitter handle to comment on the death sentence passed on Yahaya Sharif.
A Twitter user @FakhuusHashim, a member of North-Normal, a Non-Governmental Organisation calling for the end of Sexual & Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria said nothing should warrant the killing of any Nigerian for what they have said.
“Nothing, and I mean nothing should ever warrant the killing of anyone for anything they’ve said. This is repulsive and regressive. Death sentencing for blasphemy are a human rights violation and the FG must act to stop the sentence from being carried out.”
“The State that does not sentence former Boko Haram fighters who have killed and maimed thousands or at the very least have been accessory to massacres, have no bearing whatsoever on sentencing anyone to death on the grounds of what they’ve said,” Hashim said.
Another user, Ayo Sogunro, said, blasphemy cannot be a crime.
“Blasphemy cannot be a crime. Why? Because everyone’s religious beliefs or lack of it is a blasphemy to someone else’s religion. When you say there is no other God but Allah, you blaspheme against religions that have many Gods. It is as crazy as making one’s skin colour a crime.”