The governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, has vowed to sign the death warrant for the execution of a man convicted of blasphemy in the state.
Mr Ganduje said he will only fail to do so if the man appeals up to the Supreme Court and wins.
“I will not waste time in signing the warrant for the execution of the man who blasphemed our holy prophet of Islam,” the governor said Thursday during a meeting with clerics in Kano.
The Kano Upper Shari’a Court in Kano on August 10 sentenced Yahaya Sharif, a musician, to death for “blasphemy”.
The judge, Aliyu Kani, said the 22-year-old should die by hanging.
Mr Sharif, a resident of Sharifai in Kano metropolis, was accused of committing the offence in a song he circulated via WhatsApp in March 2020.
In response, protesters in the highly conservative state torched the singer’s family home.
Many Nigerians, and rights groups, have criticised the ruling. Amnesty International urged the court to reverse its verdict.
In what appears to be his first public comment on the matter, Mr Ganduje, who met with the clerics at the government house in Kano, said the state government had accepted the sentence.
“What happened is so important to the state and to the security of the state and the nation in general. What the court did is absolutely right. And we support it completely. That kind of irresponsible act, if not because of the state power, nobody could know what would happen in the future,” he said.
“The man who did that confessed to being a follower of a particular Islamic sect. But the adherents of that sect rejected him right away.
“So we need to understand the importance of this judgement. We are lucky that scholars maintained that it was not a case for a particular sect, but rather of one who just decided to derail,” Mr Ganduje said.
He commended the court’s handling of the case and commended Kano residents for not fomenting trouble during the trial.
“Our eyes are there following everything bit by bit. We thank Almighty Allah, that the court sitting went on successfully,” he said.
“Lawyers just told us that the case could go up to Supreme Court. So if that happens, I will not waste time in approving the verdict right away. And the second issue is, if the victim did not take up the case to appellate courts, I will not waste time to give the approval for the execution. I will not take more than few minutes to accept the verdict,” Mr Ganduje said.
Islamic clerics, lawyers endorse verdict
The chairman of the Council of Imams in the state, Nasir Adam, as well as the leader of Izalatul Bid’ah Wa’iqamatussunnah Abdullahi Pakistan, Usman Makwarari, gave reasons why the judgement should be executed.
Ahmad Murtala of Bayero University, Kano, said executing the judgement would strengthen Shari’ah courts and show respect for Kano people and their religion.
The chairman of the Kano State branch of Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Sani Garba, said the association would stand very firm behind the governor’s stand on signing the verdict.
He said even if the case goes to the Supreme Court, nothing would change.
Also, the chairman of NBA, Kano branch, Aminu Gadanya, said as an association, they collectively accepted the verdict of the court.
“Looking at the legal provisions followed by the Court, we are supporting this judgement 100 per cent,” he said.
Other Islamic clerics who attended the meeting included the state Commissioner of Religious Affairs, Tahar Adamu, the Imam of Triumph Friday Mosque, Lawan Abubakar, the leader of Qadiriyyah in West Africa Qariballah-Kabara who was represented by Ibrahim Matabuli-Kabara.
The meeting was also attended by Commissioner of Police, Director State Security Service, the representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria, and Eze Igbo of Kano, Boniface Ibekwe.