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Nigeria's Sharia Blasphemy Law Not Unconstitutional, Court Ruling

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Lagos — A Nigerian court on Wednesday ruled that Islamic religious law is not unconstitutional, with the death penalty from a singer who was sentenced to death two years ago for blasphemy. Dismissed test case objection.

However, a court in northern Kano also voted by majority to uphold the lower court's request for a new trial.

Yahaya Aminu Sharif was sentenced to death by a Shariah court in August 2020 after being convicted of sharing her profane messages on WhatsApp.

The Kano High Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial, but Sharif appealed, challenging the constitutionality of religious law.

} Nigeria is divided into a predominantly Christian south and a predominantly Muslim north, and its constitution is religion-neutral. Kano enforces Sharia, which includes the death penalty for blasphemy.

Judge Abubakar Mouaz Lamid said Wednesday that the complaint by Sharif, who has been in prison since 2020, was baseless and was made "on the basis of feeling rather than [in accordance with the law]." Stated.

"The appeal is without merit and therefore dismissed," Lamid said in a ruling delivered via Zoom.

The Kano State government also opposed an appeal heard in June, arguing that Sharia does not violate the state charter, a view held by many in northern Nigeria.

When Sharif was sentenced to death in 2020, a teenager was accused of similar crimes by Kano's Shariah court and he was imprisoned for 10 years.

The ruling sparked international condemnation, and the secular division of the state's High Court released his teenager but ordered Sharif's retrial.

Sharif's attorneys said they would review Wednesday's ruling before responding. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Additional reporting by Hamza Ibrahim in Kano's Him; Editing by Nick Macfie)