UNICEF has faulted the sentencing of a 13-year-old boy to ten years in prison by a Upper Sharia Court in Kano State, northwest Nigeria.

The boy, Umar Farouq, was convicted on 10 August, 2020, after he was accused of making derogatory statements toward Allah in an argument with a friend.

Development Diaries understands that although Farouq is a minor by Nigerian law and should not have been tried as an adult, Islamic canons regard anyone who has begun puberty as an adult.

It is also understood that Kano, a predominantly Muslim northern Nigerian state, has Islamic Sharia courts that function alongside civil courts and introduced Sharia law in 2000.

However, UNICEF, in a statement, expressed deep concern about the sentencing of the 13-year-old Farouq to ten years in prison.

UNICEF said the sentencing of a minor was in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.

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

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

UNICEF also said that the judgment violated 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.

Hawkins urged the federal and the Kano State governments to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.

UNICEF said it will continue to work and support the Nigerian government on strengthening child protection systems, including justice sector reform, to ensure child-sensitive measures are put in place to handle cases involving children.

Source: UNICEF

Photo source: UNICEF

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