13-y-o boy sentenced to 10 years in prison for blasphemy in Nigeria

Omar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy from Nigeria has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was convicted on August 10 in a Sharia court in Kano State, northwest Nigeria after he was accused of using foul language towards Allah in an argument with a friend.

The Child rights agency UNICEF has condemned his sentencing and says it’s a violation of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of a Child the Nigerian constitution.

His lawyer, Kola Alapinni told CNN that they are appealing the sentencing.

“Blasphemy is not recognized by Nigerian law. It is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria,” he said.

Additionally, Alapinni said the teenager’s mother had to flee her community after mobs descended on their home following his arrest. “Everyone here is scared to speak and living under fear of reprisal attacks,” he said.

UNICEF also issued a statement on the sentence on Wednesday “expressing deep concern”, and has called on the Nigerian government and the Kano State government to urgently review the case and reverse the sentence.

“The sentencing of this child, 13-year-old Omar Farouk, to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong,” said Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria.

“It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria — and by implication, Kano State — has signed on to.”

Kano State, like most predominantly Muslim states in Nigeria, practices Sharia law alongside secular law.