The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reacted to sentencing of 13-year-old Umar Farouq to 10 years in prison for blasphemy.
Umar was handed the jail sentence by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge who passed a death sentence on Kano musician Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy, after being found guilty of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.
Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria who released a statement condemning the court sentence, insisted that it contradicts the United Nations convention on the rights of the child which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
He also called on the Kano state government to urgently reverse the sentencing.
The statement read;
“The sentencing of this child –13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong.
“It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State – has signed on to.
“The sentence is in contravention of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
It is also a violation of the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child – which Nigeria ratified in 2001, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival and development.