Richard Ginika Izuora
The UK Independence Party (UKIP), a Eurosceptic, right-wing populist political party in the United Kingdom has condemned in strong terms the death sentence passed on Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy.
The Party has therefore urged the UK government to cancel aid; as well as other humanitarian assistance to Nigeria as a form of pressure according to a press release by the party on Thursday, August 13, 2020.
‘‘Nigeria, a major recipient of UK aid, sentences young man to death for a trivial offence. United Kingdom taxpayers via the Department for International Development (DFID) are major contributors of aid and investment to Nigeria; totalling well over £200 million annually. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and second-largest economy.
‘‘UKIP hopes that Her Majesty’s Government use what influence it can muster to have Mr Sharif released. In doing so our Government must not hesitate to openly use the vast amount of ill-afforded taxpayers’ money which is poured into Nigeria as a lever to encourage the Nigerians to act honourably.
‘‘Nigeria and many other countries may be profitable trade partners for the UK. But this does not excuse us conniving to gross state-led assaults on human rights among these partners,’’ the party said.
Sharif-Aminu got a death sentence by hanging for blaspheming against the Prophet Muhammad on Monday, August 10.
An upper Sharia court in the Hausawa Filin Hockey area of Kano state said Sharif-Aminu, 22; was guilty of committing blasphemy for a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March. Sharif-Aminu did not deny the charges but Judge Khadi Aliyu Muhammad Kani said he could appeal against the verdict.
The singer who is currently in detention had gone into hiding after he composed the song.
The UKIP, quoting figures from the DFID, pegs the value of the trade relationship between the UK and Nigeria at £4 billion in 2015 and with the potential to grow significantly in the future. Further, it says 56% of the UK’s expenditure on bilateral plans with Nigeria in 2018/19 was predicted to be allocated to Human Development and Humanitarian projects.
‘‘It is, therefore, to be expected that the Nigerian Government and Legal system acknowledges the basic human rights and freedoms of its citizens. Consequently, it is of utmost concern that a Nigerian court in the city of Kano; albeit a Sharia court has sentenced a young man of 22 to death; for what in any civilised country would not even be considered an offence.’’
ThenParty lampooned the decision to pass the death sentence on the singer for what it describes as a trivial offence.
‘‘Nigeria is a country where many are slaughtered on an almost daily basis by religiously motivated terrorists such as Boko Haram. This is a major problem for the Nigerian Government…The difficult task of defeating such terrorists is internationally acknowledged.
‘‘However, it is very disturbing to see the country’s legally constituted courts adding to the senseless sectarian slaughter; by proposing to hang a young man for what in the civilised world would be a minor religious disagreement to be ignored by the population at large.’’