The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reacted to the ruling of a Shari’a Court which sentenced a 13-year-old Umar Farouq to 10 years imprisonment for blasphemy.
The teenager who was accused of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend, got sentenced on August 10, 2020 by Aliyu Kani, the same judge who passed a death sentence on a musician in the State, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy.
Reacting, UNICEF representative in Nigeria Peter Hawkins on Wednesday called on the Kano State Government to reverse the judgement.
He said the sentence contravenes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act.
“UNICEF today express deep concern about the sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to ten years’ imprisonment with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria.
“The sentencing of this child –13-year-old to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong.
“It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State has signed on to.
“The sentence is in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
“It is also a violation of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child which Nigeria ratified in 2001, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival and development,” the statement reads.
However, spokesperson of the Kano High Courts, Baba Jibo Ibrahim said the judgement will not be reversed, saying Farouq was convicted according to the Kano State Shari’a Penal Code 2000 and Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law.
“He was convicted for an offence whose punishment is death but because he is a minor, the Kano state Sharia Code says he will not be sentenced to death but given a severe punishment,” Ibrahim added.