Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a musician in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kano, has been sentenced to death by hanging for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad.
The BBC reports that an upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of the state found 22-year-old Sharif-Aminu guilty of blasphemy in a song that made the rounds on WhatsApp in March.

Sharif-Aminu did not deny the charges.

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However, Judge Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani said he can appeal the verdict.

States in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim northern region live by secular and Sharia law.

Since Sharia court was reintroduced in 1999, only one of the death sentences passed by the Sharia courts in Nigeria has been carried out.

In 2002, a man accused of killing a woman and her two children was hanged to death.

The singer is currently in detention and had gone into hiding after he composed the song.

Protesters burnt down his family home and gathered outside the headquarters of the Islamic police, known as the Hisbah, to call for his head.

Critics said the song was blasphemous because it praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood and elevated him above the Prophet Muhammad.

Some of the protesters said the punishment will serve as a deterrent to those “contemplating following Yahaya’s path.

Sharif-Aminu is an Islamic gospel musician. He is not very known in northern Nigeria and his songs were not popular outside his Tjjaniya sect.

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About Sharia law in Nigeria
12 states in northern Nigeria operate the Sharia system of justice, but only Muslims can be tried in its courts. The Sharia system also has its Court of Appeal that handles both civil and criminal matters involving Muslims. Sharia judgments can also be challenged in Nigeria’s secular Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The Sharia judges, known as Alkalis, are well learned in both Islamic and secular laws. Sentences handed down by the Sharia courts include floggings, amputations, and the death penalty.

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