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From Isioma to Deborah, 5 Nigerians Who Paid a Price for ‘Blaspheming’ the Prophet of Islam

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From Isioma to Deborah, 5 Nigerians Who Paid a Price for ‘Blaspheming’ the Prophet of Islam

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Deborah Samuel, a female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was burnt to death for blasphemy by an irate mob believed to be fellow students on Thursday.

Samuel was first lynched before her remains were eventually burnt for ‘saying unacceptable things about Prophet Muhammad’.

The said incident happened after Deborah spoke against the posting of religious contents in a class WhatsApp group. Her comments angered some Muslim classmates, who took matters into their hands, and handed her a jungle punishment.

 

 

 

 

 

As reactions continue to trail Deborah’s killing, here are other blasphemy allegations that have generated public debates in the past.

 

 

 

ISIOMA NKIRUKA DANIEL’S ‘MISS WORLD ARTICLE’ IN 2002

Isioma Daniel

In November 2002, Isioma Nkiruka Daniel, then a journalist with Thisday, wrote an article on the Miss World Beauty Pageant that was to be held in Nigeria later that year.

In the article, Daniel addressed the objection some Islamic scholars had to the competition being hosted by Nigeria and went on to make the following remark:

“The Muslims thought it was immoral to bring 92 women to Nigeria and ask them to revel in vanity. What would Mohammed think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from one of them.”

 

 

 

 

Her comments later triggered a violent religious clash in the north, leaving over 200 people dead. Close to 1,000 people were also injured in the violence.

During the period, Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi, Zamfara State Deputy Governor, issued a Fatwa against Daniel, encouraging the journalist’s blood to be shed.

Daniel would eventually flee the country when it became apparent that her life was no longer safe.

Despite ThisDay’s public apology and subsequent retraction of the story, the media outlet’s office was torched by an irate mob in Kaduna State.

 

 

 

YAHAYA SHARIF-AMINU

 

 

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Yahaya Sharif-Aminu

Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a 22-year-old musician, was sentenced to death by a Sharia Court in Kano State for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet of Islam in August 2020.

Sharif-Aminu was said to have committed the offence in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.

With the release of the song, Sharif-Aminu was accused of contravening Section 382 (B) of the Sharia Penal Code Law of Kano 2000.

A High Court in the same state would, however, quash the death sentence handed to the musician in January 2021. After citing irregularities in the Sharia Court’s previous trial, the court ordered that Sharif-Aminu be tried afresh by the same Sharia Court.

 

 

 

 

The musician’s legal team immediately appealed against the High Court’s verdict, asking that the retrial order be quashed. The team also demanded that Sharif-Aminu be cleared of all charges.

The Court of Appeal in Kano postponed hearing on the case in February when, the Kano State Government requested more time to file its response to Sharif-Aminu’s appeal.

 

 

 

OMAR FAROUK

 

In August 2020, Omar Farouk, 13, was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to ten years imprisonment by a Sharia Court in Kano.

Farouk was handed the sentence with hard labour for ‘making derogatory statements against Islam during a public argument with a friend’.

Farouk’s sentencing led to a public outcry from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other international organisations. The organisations stated that it was unfair to hand such a sentence to a minor who also did not have a legal representation during his trial.

 

 

 

 

A Kano High Court would, however, acquit Farouk and quash the sentence in January 2021.

After his acquittal, the teenager faced further threats to his life from extremists in the state, forcing Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, an international organisation based in Poland, to relocate him to an undisclosed place.

MUBARAK BALA

Mubarak Bala

Mubarak Bala, an atheist and president, Humanist Association of Nigeria, was sentenced in April to 24 years in prison by a High Court in Kano after being convicted of blasphemy against Islam.

Bala was arrested in Kaduna State and transported to Kano, his home state, in 2020, after comparing the late T. B Joshua, president of Synagogue Church of Nations, to Prophet Muhammed in a statement he made in the same year.

 

 

 

Bala remained in incarceration till he was eventually sentenced.

After pleading guilty to the offence, Bala asked the court to temper justice with mercy, promising not to repeat the said blasphemous comments in the future.

Bala’s decision to plead guilty caught Farouk Lawan, the presiding judge, and his lawyers by surprise, forcing the court to ask a second time if he was certain about his plea.

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Bala, however, insisted he knew what he was doing and maintained his plea.

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