Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje
By Bashir Bello
The Kano State government has on Thursday reacted to the call by the United Nations Childen’s Fund, UNICEF for the government to urgently review and reverse a Shariah court judgment sentencing a blasphemer, Umar Farouq (13) to 10 years imprisonment in the state.
The State’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Musa Abdullahi Lawan said it was wrong for UNICEF to make such call as no country where government intervenes in the judgment given by a court of competent jurisdiction.
He said where the aggrieved party were not satisfactory with the judgment it has the right of appeal at the High Court, to Court of Appeal and to Supreme Court.
According to him, “First of all, there have been issues that the convict is a minor but what is on the court record is he is 17 year-old.
“Then for UNICEF to say that the government should intervene, of course there is no country where the government intervenes in court cases. Once there is a judgment by a court of competent jurisdiction, the next thing is if there is any problem with the judgment, the aggrieved party can file an appeal. And in this instance, he has the right of appeal to High Court, to the Court of Appeal and to the Supreme Court.
“Indeed, he is a minor, records show that and if he files an appeal like you know under law, a minor cannot be held accountable especially in some Criminal cases.
“I think, it was wrong of UNICEF to say that the state government should intervene. State government not even here in Nigeria, but even in Europe and America, they do not intervene in court cases.
“Once there is a valid judgment whether the judgment was rightly entered or not. It is a subject of appeal. And as far as I know he has filed an appeal. I think the best thing is for all of us to wait and the see the outcome of the appeal,” the Commissioner of Justice, Lawan however said.
Recall that the UNICEF had expressed deep concern about the sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to ten years’ imprisonment with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria.
UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said, “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.
“UNICEF called on the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence,” Hawkins said.
Farouk was sentenced to 10 years in imprisonment by the Shariah court sitting in Filin Hockey, presided over by Muhammad Aliyu Kani, after he pleaded guilty before the court for alleged making derogatory statement against his creator, Almighty Allah