The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has called on the Kano State government to urgently reverse the sentencing of Umar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy, to 10 years in prison for blasphemy.

UNICEF made this call in a statement by its representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, who said that the sentence is a contradiction of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.

Recall that a Sharia court in Kano convicted Farouq, after he was accused of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.

Controversial judge, Aliyu Kanu, who had earlier passed a death sentence on a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu for blasphemy, is the same judge who sentenced Farouq.

Condemning the sentencing of Farouq, Hawkins insisted that it undermines child rights principles, adding, “The sentencing of this child – 13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong.”

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

“The sentence is in contravention of the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991. It is also a violation of the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child – which Nigeria ratified in 2001, and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival and development.”

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