The death sentence of Yahaya Aminu Sharif proves that Sharia law targets poor, ordinary Nigerians

sharia

A Sharia court in Kano on Monday sentenced a 22-year-old musician, Yahaya Aminu Sharif to death by hanging. Yahaya’s crime was his self-expression in his music as the court found him guilty of using derogatory expressions against the Prophet Mohammed in one of his songs.

For emphasis, Sharia Islamic law is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. Derived from the religious precepts of Islam, particularly the Quran and the Hadith, the term sharīa refers to God’s immutable divine law. However, the manner of its application in modern times has been a subject of dispute between Muslim fundamentalists and modernists. The Sharia law in Nigeria has been instituted as a main body of civil and criminal law in twelve Muslim-majority states since 1999. It is also worthy to note that blasphemy is a criminal offense in both the Nigerian civil law and sharia law.

But many have argued over the years that the law that criminalizes people for their ideas in regards to a God or sacred things goes against the constitution of Nigeria that gives rights to the freedom of expression.

For Yahaya, it was shared that he reportedly circulated the song on WhatsApp in March, prompting angry Islamic demonstrators to burn down his family house. It wasn’t immediately clear how the lyrics blasphemed against the Prophet Mohammed, but this story has created an uproar on social media. People are questioning the law in its entirety and calling that the Sharia Law be dropped and annulled in Nigeria.

The constitutionality and audacity of extending Sharia into the purview of criminal justice remain very questionable. In Northern Nigeria, Sharia law is somehow perceived as politicized, with the governors and powerful politicians introducing it in the north to meet demands long made by potential voters. On Twitter, this trend has got many people riled up on the way that these laws seem to only stretch to the poor and non influential Muslims in the north.

It has been argued that the enforcement of Sharia Law infringes on the rights and freedoms of Nigerians, including the right to move about freely and to be treated equally in their chosen place of residence. However, the constitution envisages the law be applied only to Muslims, and a symbolic example of such infringement is subjecting non-Muslims to Sharia law in the affected Northern states. Yahaya for all it could be, may not be an Islam faithful. However, this law is veering to be the death of him.

In 2018, Kano governor Umar Ganduje was filmed taking dollars as bribe and till now, he’s yet to face consequences. Only recently, some ‘repentant’ Boko Haram members were pardoned and rehabilitated back to society. Many Nigerians on this news are debating that the law chiefly affects the poor and not the rich. Their claims are logical as there are close to no reports of the law taking full effect on the wealthy and influential Northern Muslims, except in all their riches and dealings in the world, they are just as pious as the prophet himself.

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