Falana drags Nigeria to African rights commission over Kano singer’s death sentence

Femi Falana

Human rights lawyer Femi Falana has petitioned the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in The Gambia over the death sentence handed to a singer in Kano State Yahaya Sharif-Aminu.

An Upper Sharia Court had in August sentenced Mr Sharif-Aminu to death by hanging for blaspheming against Prophet Muhammad in a song.

In the petition dated September 8, Falana asked the commission to urge the Nigerian authorities “to stop the irreparable damage that would be caused to the petitioner and his charter rights”.

The senior lawyer lamented the delay in securing certified true copies of the court’s judgement, adding that although the musician had appealed the sentence “we submit that the petitioner will not enjoy a fair hearing, as he continues to face imminent execution by hanging.”

Falana said by denying Sharif-Aminu fair trial, the commission should find Nigeria wanting for violating seven articles of the charter.

“By virtue of the decision to execute the petitioner, find that Nigeria has violated his right to life under Article 4 of the African Charter, and the resolutions on moratorium on executions adopted by both the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN General Assembly,” he said.

“Find that Nigeria has deliberately and wilfully disregarded the request by the African Commission to the effect that African countries, including Nigeria that still retain the death penalty should fully comply with their obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and guarantee to every person accused of crimes for which capital punishment is applicable, fair trial standards, including access to legal representation.”

Falana urged the commission to ask the Nigerian authorities to “faithfully and fully implement resolutions on moratorium on executions” adopted by the African body and United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).