The Appeal Court on Thursday set aside the death sentence passed on 22-year-old singer, Yahaya Aminu-Sharif, by the Upper Shari’a court which charged him for blaspheming.
The presiding judges, Justice Nuradeen Sagir, who is the Chief Judge and his Co-panelist, Justice Nasiru Saminu, ordered a retrial of the case on the grounds that the proceedings at the lower court were characterised by irregularities.
Armed security was tight at the court during the judgment.
Aminu-Sharif, a Kano based musician, was sued for “insulting religious creed, contrary to section 382 (b) of Kano State Shari’a Penal Code Law 2000.”
The Sharia court, presided by Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani, on August-10, sentenced him by hanging, having found him guilty of committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad in a song which he circulated via WhatsApp in March that same year.
In spite of the outcry over the judgement, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje endorsed the judgment, saying he would not waste time to sign the singer’s death sentence if he failed to appeal in 30 days.
Sharif, through his counsel, Kola Alapinni, appealed that the appellate court should set aside the entire judgement of the Upper Sharia Court of Kano.
Alapinni contended the appellant’s trial, conviction and sentencing by the Upper Sharia Court, pursuant to Kano State Penal Code Law 2000, were unconstitutional, null and void, having grossly violated and conflicted with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
He argued the offence of blasphemy for which Sharif was convicted is no longer a cognisable offence in Nigeria by virtue of section 10, standing alone or in conjunction with section 38 and 39 of the constitution, respectively.
He maintained a capital offence seeking to terminate human life must comply strictly, especially, with the right to life provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria.
He averred the confessional statement and the plea of the applicant in the court below is a nullity and legally irrelevant in the absence of a valid law criminalising the appellant’s alleged criminal conduct.
He maintained that a Penal Sharia Code law is only applicable and permissible in Islamic theocracies or countries whose constitution allows for such laws, whereas Nigeria is a secular state with constitutional democracy and the constitution being the supreme law.
Delivering judgement on the appeal on Thursday, the two-man panel of the court ruled that the first trial was full of irregularities and the appellant was not given a fair legal representation.
The judges ruled that the verdict by the Upper Sharia Court Hausawa Filin Hockey contravenes sections 2-6-9 of the ACJN and that its judgement was done in nullity.
“The case should be re-tried and the appellant be given fare hearing and he should be fully legally represented,” it was ruled.
The court, in another appeal, also set aside the judgement which sentenced 13-year old Umar Faruk, to 10 years imprisonment also on the charge of blasphemy.
Justice Nuradeen Sagir discharged the minor, saying the Shari’a judgement against him was done in a rush.