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UN demands release of Kano singer sentenced to death for blasphemy

Rights group condemn death sentence on Kano musician accused of blasphemy

The United Nations has demanded the release of Kano based singer, Sharif Yahaya Sharif who was sentenced to death over alleged blasphemy.

The call was made on Monday by a group of UN human rights experts who called for the death sentence imposed on the 22-year-old by an Islamic court in the northern state of Kano for sharing a song that he had written and performed via WhatsApp to be overturned.

In a statement issued on Monday, UN experts on human rights numbering up to 10, called for the sentence to be overruled, saying they were concerned that Sharif-Aminu – a Muslim who belonged to the Sufi Tijaniyyah order – was being held incommunicado and did not have legal representation at his initial trial.

READ ALSO: BLASPHEMY: CAN reacts on death sentence ruling on Kano singer

“Artistic expression of opinion and beliefs, through songs or other media – including those seen to offend religious sensibilities – is protected in accordance with international law. The criminalization of these expressions is unlawful. Music is not a crime,” the statement read.

This came after human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria,m (SAN), Femi Falana, dragged the Kano State government and the Federal Government of Nigeria before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, Gambia, over the death sentence imposed on the Kano singer.

Falana in a petition dated September 8, 2020, which was made available to newsmen last Sunday prayed that the Commission exercise its mandates and authority under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and pursuant to the commission’s order 100(1) of the commission’s Rules of Procedure, 2020.

The petition also argued that Nigerian authorities continue to violate fair trial and other rights of the petitioner despite their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international treaties to which Nigeria is a state party.

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