Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has petitioned the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, over the decision of an Upper Sharia Court in Kano State sentencing a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed.
In the petition dated 8th September 2020, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria asked the commission to exercise its mandates and authority under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and pursuant to the commission’s order 100(1) Rules of Procedure, 2020.
Falana insisted that Nigeria has deliberately and willfully disregarded the request by the African Commission to the effect that African countries, including Nigeria that still retain the death penalty, should fully comply with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and guarantee every person accused of capital punishment fair trial.
The petition read;
“I am writing to you on behalf of Sharif Yahya Sharif to ask the Commission to consider this request for provisional measures. The request is submitted in conjunction with our communication on behalf of Sharif Yahya Sharif convicted and sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano State of Nigeria.
“When the petitioner informed the Court that he could not afford and secure the services of a lawyer to defend him, the Court ordered the Legal Aid Council to assign him a lawyer so that the petitioner could enjoy access to legal representation.
“However, the order was disobeyed by the Legal Aid Council. The Legal Aid Council is the body established by law to provide legal support to indigent citizens especially in cases involving death penalty.
“An appeal at the Kano State High Court against the conviction and death sentence imposed on the petitioner has been filed, but we submit that the petitioner will not enjoy a fair hearing, as he continues to face imminent execution by hanging.
“Nigeria is a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights but there is a growing crackdown on human rights including the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and attack on the rule of law.”