On June 25, 2015, a Sharia Court of Appeal in Rijiyar Lemo in Kano State, North-West Nigeria sentenced nine persons to death for alleged blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed.
Reporting the incident, the MFWA’s partner organisation in Nigeria, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), said the court found Abdul-Inyas, Hajiya Mairo (a woman) and seven others guilty of blasphemy and sentenced them to death for offences allegedly committed in early June 2015.
Abdul-Inyas, a leader of the Tijjaniyya Muslim sect, was accused of making “unguarded statements against Prophet Mohammed” during a sermon at Goron Dutse, an area in the Kano metropolis. It is unclear what the exact offences of the other convicted persons were. Four more persons—Alkasim Abubakar, Yahya Abubakar, Isa Abubakar, and Abdullahi Abubakar— had been arrested alongside the nine convicted persons, but the court reportedly freed them.
According to the MRA, the information about the convictions and sentences was disclosed to the public through a statement signed by a court official whose name was only given as Nasiru. The statement said the nine persons were found guilty of blasphemy under Sections 110 and 382b of the Sharia Penal Code 2000.
“The statement, while disclosing that the persons have been sentenced to death, noted that some Muslims in Kano had threatened violence if the accused were set free,” said the MRA report.
The trial was reportedly carried out in secret: details of its proceedings; the name of the trial judge; and the names of the seven other persons who were sentenced were not disclosed.
This is the second instance in recent times that a court in West Africa has sentenced persons for blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed. On December 24, 2014, a court in Mauritania sentenced blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed to death on apostasy charges. Mohamed was arrested on January 2, 2014 and taken into investigative custody before being charged with apostasy for an article published on his personal blog and on other websites in Mauritania. His article, “Religion, religiosity and craftsmen,” criticised Prophet Mohammed’s decisions during “holy wars.” In the article, Mohammed also said followers of Islam interpreted the religion according to their circumstances.