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Omar Farouq

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Omar Farouq, the children’s rights agency, UNICEF, sentenced a 13-year-old boy to 10 years in prison for blasphemy in northern Nigeria.

Omar Farouq convicted by a Sharia court in northwestern Nigeria’s Kano state

Omar Farouq was convicted by a Sharia court in northwestern Nigeria’s Kano state after he was accused of using foul language against Allah during an argument with a friend.

He was sentenced on August 10 by the same court that recently sentenced a studio assistant, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, to death for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad, lawyers said.

Farouq’s punishment violates the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Nigerian constitution, said his lawyer Kola Alapinni.

An appeal was filed on behalf of the boy on April 7.

Alapinni said neither he nor the other lawyers working on the case had access to Farouq by Kano state officials.

He said he came across Farouq’s case by accident while working on the Sharif-Aminu case, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in the Kano Sharia court.

“We found out that they were convicted the same day, by the same judge, in the same court, for blasphemy,” he said.

“We found out that no one was talking about Omar, so we had to act quickly to appeal to him.

“Blasphemy is not recognized by Nigerian law. It is incompatible with Nigeria’s constitution. ”

The lawyer said Farouq’s mother had fled to a nearby town after a mob broke into her home after her arrest.

“Everyone here is afraid to speak up and lives in fear of reprisal attacks,” he said.

‘Deep concern’

UNICEF released a statement on Wednesday expressing “deep concern” about the sentencing.

“Sentencing this child – Omar Farouk, 13 – to 10 years in prison for manual labor is a mistake,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria.

“It also denies all the fundamental principles of children’s rights and justice for children that Nigeria – and, by implication, the State of Kano – subscribed to.”

The state of Kano, like most Muslim-majority states in Nigeria, practices Sharia alongside secular law.

UNICEF called on the Nigerian government and the Kano state government to urgently review the case and overturn the sentence, the organization said in a statement.