Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Lawyer discovers Nigerian boy, 13, imprisoned for blasphemy

Omar Farouq was convicted in a shariah court after he was accused of using foul language toward Allah in an argument with a friend.

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has condemned the sentencing of a 13-year-old boy to 10 years in prison for blasphemy in northern Nigeria’s Kano State.

Omar Farouq was convicted in a shariah court after he was accused of using foul language toward Allah in an argument with a friend.

Farouq’s punishment is in violation of the Nigerian constitution, said his lawyer Kola Alapinni.

He told CNN, lawyers have not been granted access to Farouq by authorities.

Alapinni discovered Farouq’s case while working on the defence of Sharif-Aminu, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in Kano State.

“We found out they were both convicted of blasphemy on the same day, by the same judge, in the same court,” Alapinni said. “But nobody was talking about Omar, so we had to move quickly to file an appeal for him.

“Blasphemy is not recognized by Nigerian law. It is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”

The lawyer said Farouq’s mother had fled to a neighbouring town after mobs attacked their home following Farouq’s arrest.

“Everyone here is scared to speak and living under fear of reprisal attacks,” he said.

On Wednesday Unicef issued a statement “expressing deep concern” about the sentencing.

Like most predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria, Kano State practises shariah law alongside secular law.

Unicef has now called on the Nigerian government and the Kano State government to urgently review the case and reverse the sentence.

Alapinni told CNN an appeal on Farouq’s behalf was filed on Sept 7.

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