The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has blasted the Kano state government over the sentencing of Umar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy, to 10 years in prison for blasphemy, asking them to urgently reverse the sentencing.
In a statement by UNICEF representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, the sentence contradicts the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
A Sharia court in Kano had convicted Farouq after he was accused of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.
Farouq’s sentencing was handed over by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge who passed a death sentence on Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a musician, “for blasphemy”.
Hawkins displeased by the sentence of Farouk, said it undermines child rights principles.
“The sentencing of this child –13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong,” he said in a statement.
He added that the sentencing goes against all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice which l Nigeria has signed on to.
“The sentence is in contravention of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991. It is also a violation of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child – which Nigeria ratified in 2001, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival and development.”