AFP, KANO, Nigeria
A Nigerian teenager sentenced last year to 10 years in jail for “blasphemy” by an Islamic Shariah court had his sentence overturned on Thursday by a court in the country’s north.
“The judgement of the Shariah court is hereby nullified for lack of credibility and considering the appellant is a minor,” the Kano State appeals court said in a judgement.
Aged just 13 when he was sentenced, Umar Farouk “is hereby discharged and acquitted,” it added.
The court, applying Islamic Shariah law, which is enforced in some Muslim-majority states in northern Nigeria, had sentenced Farouk to 10 years’ forced labor after convicting him of blaspheming during an argument with a friend.
Its ruling sparked international condemnation from governments and rights groups.
The US in December last year designated Nigeria a “country of particular concern” over religious freedom.
Also on Thursday, the Kano court ordered a retrial for a 22-year-old musician, Yahaya Aminu Sherif.
He had been sentenced to death by the same Shariah court for blaspheming against the Prophet Mohammed in a song.
Sherif did not have legal representation during his trial, the Kano court found, adding that he should be tried by a different judge.
In March last year, people marched in Kano when his song was released, burning his family home and calling for his arrest.
Sherif’s death sentence was the second issued for blasphemy since the adoption of Shariah law in several northern Nigerian states in the early 2000s, with Islamic courts operating in parallel to the state justice system.
Abdul Nyass, who belonged to the same Sufi order as Sherif, was convicted of blasphemy by a Kano Shariah court in 2015.
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