Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has written the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia, over the death sentence on Kano singer, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former president of West African Bar Association (WABA) is asking the commission to exercise its mandate under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), pursuant to Order 100(1) of the commission’s Rules of Procedure 2020.
In the petition dated September 8, 2020, and obtained by reporters yesterday, Falana states: “I am writing to you on behalf of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu to consider this request for provisional measures. The request is submitted with our communication on behalf of Sharif-Aminu convicted and sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano State of Nigeria.
“Our communication details multiple violations of his rights to life and fair trial guaranteed under ACHPR, and resolutions on moratorium on executions adopted by both the commission and the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.”
In the petition, he urged the commission to urgently invoke its rules of procedure as well as its mandate and authority under ACHPR to request that Nigeria adopted these provisional measures to stop the irreparable damage that would be caused to the petitioner and his rights.
“The petitioner is a Nigerian citizen, who has been found guilty of the offence of blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) contrary to section 382 (B) of the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law 2000 (which carries death sentence) and convicted.
“Despite their obligations under ACHPR and other international treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, the Nigerian authorities continue to violate the fair trial and other rights of the petitioner, and put him at risk of imminent execution. In particular, there are serious, persistent and irreparable violations of the petitioner’s rights to life and fair trial, including to competent and effective legal representation.” On August 10, 2020, the Upper Sharia Court sitting in Kano convicted the singer of blasphemy and sentenced him to death by hanging.
“The request for a certified true copy of the judgment of the court was not granted on time,” Falana noted. He further asked the commission to note that Nigeria, by virtue of its consistent denial of fair trial and other rights of Nigerians, violated Articles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of the charter.
Other issues raised by the lawyer include to ask Nigeria to immediately and unconditionally release the petitioner, who is facing execution simply for exercising his human rights, and to pay appropriate compensation to the petitioner for the multiple violations of his rights and freedoms.