The UN’s Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner urged authorities to overturn the death sentence of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, 22, who was convicted of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on 10 August by a Sharia court in Kano province, which is located in northern part of Nigeria.
His offence was circulating a blasphemous video of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on WhatsApp in March, 2020, Mr Sharif-Aminu also received death threats and his family home has been burnt down by angry mob.
United Nations human rights experts called his case a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Karima Bennoune, who serves as UN special rapporteur for cultural rights, added that a death penalty “for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the Internet” constitutes a “flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution”.
Last month, the human rights organisation Amnesty International described the sentence as a “travesty of justice” and said Nigeria was obliged under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to restrict capital punishment to the “most serious crimes”, which involve intentional killing.
“We are deeply concerned over the serious lack of due process in Mr. Sharif-Aminu’s case so far, especially reports that he has been held incommunicado, and that he did not have access to a lawyer during his initial trial, a trial that was not open to the public”, the office said in a statement.
Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International’s Nigeria country director, said: “There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial; and the framing of the charges against him based on his WhatsApp messages.”
“Furthermore the imposition of the death penalty following an unfair trial violates the right to life. Yahaya Sharif-Aminu must be released immediately and unconditionally,” she added.