Release Sharif, others imprisoned for blasphemy, SERAP urges FG
THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has condemned the death sentence passed on Yahaya Sharif, a Kano born musician by a Kano Upper Sharia Court on Monday over an alleged blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
Sharif, a 22-year-old musician, was found guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March and was subsequently sentenced to death by Justice Aliyu Kani, the presiding judge court.
Reacting to the judgement, SERAP called on the Federal Government to quash the judgement describing it as a travesty of justice and the violation of the musician’s right.
“We urge Nigerian authorities to immediately quash the death sentence by hanging for a Kano-based musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad,” SERAP demands in a Twitter message on Tuesday.
“This is a travesty of justice and amounts to violation of the right to freedom of expression.
“The sentence amounts to criminalization of the poor, as these vaguely worded blasphemy laws are typically used against the poor and those without political influence,” it added.
It called upon the Nigerian authorities to begin to quash all court judgement for blasphemy and immediately release those imprisoned because of it.
The SERAP also called on the government to repeal blasphemy laws by also making sure all laws are in conformity with the 1999 Nigerian constitution and to all international laws that Nigeria subscribed to.
“Authorities must quash all sentences for blasphemy and immediately and unconditionally release those imprisoned solely for exercising their constitutionally and internationally guaranteed right to freedom of expression,” it said.
“Authorities must also urgently repeal blasphemy laws and bring them in conforming with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a party.”
It said that Sharif-Aminu must be immediately and unconditionally released, adding, “Nigerians have the right to live free from fear of unjust punishment.”
The accountability organisation added that blasphemy should not be brought against anyone for exercising their human rights.
“Blasphemy charges should never be brought against people simply for exercising their rights, including the right to freedom of expression,” it said.