Nigerian court ruled that ‘sharia law’ did not violate the constitution in the case of Yahya Aminu Sharif, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy.
The court in North Kano state, by majority decision, upheld a lower court’s call for a retrial.
Judge Abubakar Muazu Lamido announced that Sharif lacked the right to appeal and his request was denied.
Convicted of sharing a message on WhatsApp that contained “blasphemy”, Sharif, then 22, was sentenced to death by a sharia court in August 2020.
The high court in Kano overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial. However, Sharif appealed the decision, objecting to the “constitutionality of sharia law”.
‘Sharia does not violate national statute’
Nigeria, whose constitution states it is neutral on religion, is divided between a largely Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north. “Sharia rules” apply, including the death penalty, for blasphemy in Kano.
The Kano state government argues that “sharia, a view held by many in northern Nigeria”, does not violate the national charter.
At the time Sharif was sentenced to death, another youth was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Kano Sharia Court on similar charges. However, after international condemnation, the high court released the teenager and ordered Sharif’s retrial.