The Kano state government has been asked to urgently reverse the sentencing of Umar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy, to 10 years in prison for blasphemy. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) made the call in a statement, issued by Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria.
He said the sentence contradicted the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
A Sharia court in Kano convicted Farouq after he was accused of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.
Farouq was sentenced by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge who passed a death sentence on Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a musician, “for blasphemy”.
Hawkins condemned the sentence of Farouk, saying it undermined child rights principles.
SaidHawkins: “The sentencing of this child –13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong. It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State – has signed on to.
“The sentence is in contravention of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991. It is also a violation of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child – which Nigeria ratified in 2001, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival and development”.