Nigerian singer at risk of imminent execution
On 27 August, Kano State government published on its official website a statement that the governor would not hesitate to sign the warrant for Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s execution.
There are serious concerns about the fairness of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu’s trial and the framing of the charges against him. Before and during the trail, he was not permitted legal representation. He was granted access to legal advice to prepare an appeal after human rights lawyers and activists pressured the court to respect his right to legal representation. Sharia law, which is practiced in many states in northern Nigeria, provides for the death penalty for blasphemy. The Hisbah, a Kano State-owned security outfit is the body that enforces the Shariah law in the highly conservative state.
The death penalty remains a legal sanction in Nigeria and continues to be imposed throughout the country. In 2019, over 54 death sentences were recorded. In total, over 2, 700 people were under death sentence by the end of the year. In Nigeria, the 2004 National Study Group on Death Penalty and the 2007 Presidential Commission on the Administration of Justice both stressed that the Nigerian criminal justice system cannot guarantee a fair trial and called for a moratorium on the death penalty.
In 2008, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission) adopted its second resolution on the death penalty, calling on States Parties to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights – such as Nigeria – to “observe a moratorium on the execution of death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty” and to ratify the ICCPR-OP2. In a study published on 19 April 2012, the Working Group on the Death Penalty of the African Commission reaffirmed the necessity of the abolition of capital punishment and suggested ways for its achievement.