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13-year-old boy sentenced to 10 years in prison over blasphemy in Nigeria

A 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Sharia court in Kano State in northwest Nigeria after he was accused of using foul language toward Allah in an argument with a friend.

Child rights agency, UNICEF condemned the sentencing.

He was sentenced on August 10 by the same court that recently sentenced a studio assistant Yahaya Sharif-Aminu to death for blaspheming Prophet Mohammed, according to lawyers.




Farouq’s punishment is in violation of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of a Child and the Nigerian constitution, said his counsel Kola Alapinni. An appeal has been filed on his behalf on September 7.

Farouq was tried as an adult because he has attained puberty and has full responsibility under Islamic law.

Counsel Kola Alapinni said he found out about Farouq’s case by chance when working on the case of Sharif-Aminu, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy at the Kano Upper Sharia Court.



“We found out they were convicted on the same day, by the same judge, in the same court, for blasphemy and we found out no one was talking about Omar, so we had to move quickly to file an appeal for him,” he said.

“Blasphemy is not recognized by Nigerian law. It is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”

The lawyer said Farouq’s mother had fled to a neighboring town after mobs descended on their home following his arrest.

“Everyone here is scared to speak and living under fear of reprisal attacks,” he said.

UNICEF Wednesday issued a statement “expressing deep concern” about the sentencing. UNICEF has called on the Nigerian government and the Kano State government to urgently review the case and reverse the sentence, the organization said in a statement.

Kano State, like most predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria, practices Sharia law alongside secular law.