Geneva: UN rights experts asked Nigeria to release a 22-year-old singer who was punished to death over an allegedly blasphemous song. Yahaya Aminu Sharif was sentenced last month by a sharia court in Kano, the commercial hub of Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north after he performed the song and shared it on WhatsApp. “Music is not a crime,” read a joint statement from the group of UN reporters. “Application of the death penalty for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the internet is a flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution,” said Karima Bennoune.
Nigeria should overturn the death sentence and guarantee the singer’s safety while he launched an appeal. Protesters enraged by the song burned down Sharif’s family home. “If we are requested to release him, it has to be through legal procedure,” said spokesman Baba Jibo Ibrahim. Kano’s justice system has been in the spotlight since a sharia court also sentenced a 13-year-old boy to 10 years in prison last month after he was accused of making blasphemous statements during an argument.