Unchained Vibes Africa joins the Foundation for Religious Freedom in describing the unfortunate ruling of the Appeal Court which upholds the High Court’s decision to remit Yahaya Sharif-Aminu back to the Upper Shariah Court for retrial as disappointing. Yesterday, the 17th August 2022, two of the three judges on the panel set up by the Court of Appeal, Kano, upheld the Kano High Court’s earlier decision ordering a re-trial of the case of singer Yahaya Sharif-Aminu at the Upper Shariah Court. Justice Abubakar Lamido delivered the judgment via a Zoom video conference. However, there was a dissenting judgment by Justice Ita Mbaba. Justice Mbaba argued that the singer be discharged and acquitted. The justices also upheld the High Court’s decision on the legality of Shariah blasphemy laws with one exception; they held that Section 10 of the Constitution is justiciable.
Our partners and lawyers leading the legal battle under the auspices of the Foundation for Religious Freedom, described the judgment as disappointing. According to them, the law relating to retrials has been clarified in several precedent cases. They said, ‘’Cases in which procedural irregularities have occurred should not be subject to retrial. ‘’So, we believe the majority Justices disregarded the established precedents, whilst the dissenting Justice did not.’’
Unchained Vibes has collaborated with the lawyers, sponsored the appeal and facilitated additional support from its international partners as well as conducted advocacy on the case.
Unchained Vibes will continue to support the lawyers and collaborate with the Foundation for Religious Freedom to file the next appeal to the Nigerian Supreme Court.
Chronology of events compiled by our partner Foundation for Religious Freedom
4 March 2020
Yahaya Aminu-Sharif’s house was ransacked and damaged by a mob.
Early March 2020
Yahaya was arrested.
10 August 2020
Yahaya was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Since his arrest, he had been kept incommunicado with no access to his family or a lawyer.
3 September 2020
FRF filed a notice of appeal.
26 November 2020
Yahaya’s case was heard in the Kano High Court.
21 January 2021
Decision announced. Yahaya’s conviction and sentence were quashed, but the court remitted him to the Kano Shariah Court for re-trial.
25 January 2021
FRF filed a second appeal. This time we appealed to the Appellate Court against the retrial.
There was a long court break because the judiciary was on strike, and the then Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, passed away.
1 December 2021
First hearing date: The state’s lawyers failed to turn up. The hearing was adjourned.
10 February 2022
Second hearing date: The state’s lawyers were present but failed to submit their respondent’s brief. The hearing was adjourned.
12 May 2022
Third hearing date: One judge was absent through sickness, and another was absent because of a domestic emergency. The hearing was adjourned.
23 June 2022
Fourth hearing date: The case was heard. Judgment was reserved–to be announced at a later date.
17 August 2022