The United Kingdom has opposed the death sentence meted out to a Northern Nigerian musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, by an upper Shari’a court in Kano.
According to the United Kingdom, individuals have the right to freely express their opinions and peacefully challenge authorities, and emphasized that this is essential to a free and open society.
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The Shari’a court had imposed the death sentence on Sharif-Aminu, aged 22 two Mondays ago, for committing blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed in a song he sang and circulated via WhatsApp. This was after angry youths in his community had razed down his family house and marched to the police station, demanding action.
The decision to sentence the musician to death by hanging had sparked nationwide outrage, with several civil society groups, both local and international, condemning the court’s decision. Despite the outrage, the Shari’a Council, however, implored Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State to sign the death warrant.
However, commenting on the sentence in response to an inquiry from newsmen, the British High Commission in Nigeria said it would continue to monitor the situation.
In a statement by the Senior Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Christopher Ogunmodede, the Commission said the UK Government opposes death penalty in all circumstances.
The statement read in part, “The United Kingdom is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world, and to being a strong voice internationally in defence of this fundamental right.
“We believe that the rights of individuals to express opinions and peacefully challenge authorities are essential to a free and open society. We will continue to monitor the situation closely. It is a longstanding policy of the UK Government to oppose the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.”
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