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Blasphemy: Court orders retrial of Aminu Sharif sentenced to death

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Yahaya Aminu Sharif
Yahaya Sharif Aminu

 

 

Nasiru Yusuf

The Kano State High Court (Appeal Division) has) on Thursday quashed the conviction of one Yahaya Aminu Shariff, who was earlier in August last year sentenced to death by the Upper Sharia Court Filin Hockey presided over by Aliyu Muhammad Kani.

The court presided over by Justice Nura Sagir Umar, the Chief Judge of Kano State, ordered in its judgment read by Justice Nasiru Saminu, that Mr Shariff be tried afresh by another Upper Sharia Court.

He stated, “On Yahaya Aminu Sharif, the court set aside the trial for some procedural irregularities.

“But the case has been remitted back to the sharia court for a retrial”.

Justice Saminu also said the defendant must be provided with legal representation during the retrial.

He said it is mandatory where anyone is standing trial for a capital offence that may result in death penalty, such a defendant is entitled to a legal representation.

Justice Saminu relied on section 269 (3) and (4) of the Kano State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, ACJL, which says any person standing trial in capital offence shall be entitled to legal representation, which must under any circumstances be provided even if it entails the court appointing a lawyer for the defendant, what is known as ‘Dock Brief’.

It may be recalled that on August 10, 2020, the Upper Sharia Court Hausawa Filin Hockey convicted and sentenced Mr. Sharif under section 382B of the Kano State Sharia Penal Code (2000) for insulting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a voice note he shared to a WhatsApp group called Gidan Umma Amina.

Similarly, the court also discharged and acquitted another blasphemer, Umar Faruk Bashir who was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

The court set aside the sentence passed on Mr Bashir and declared the entire Upper Sharia Court’s judgment a nullity as the said Umar Faruk is a minor whose admission of guilt is inadmissible in law.

It could be recalled that the duo of Yahaya Sharrif Aminu and Umar Farouq Bashir were said to have sometimes early last year committed blasphemy against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and making derogatory statement against Almighty Allah respectively.

The defendant through one Kola Alapinni appealed against the death sentence and 10 years imprisonment at the Kano State High Court (Appeal Division).

Reacting to the Thursday’s judgment, Mr Alapinni described the judgment as bitter and sweet.

He said, “Today, we have a bitter-sweet judgments as Umar Farouq has been set free completely because he was a minor that was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

“On the issue of Yahaya Aminu Sharrif which was a death sentence and that really shocked the whole of the country and international community. It also made us a laughing stock before the international community where someone will say something which was regarded as being disrespectful in a religion and he will be sentenced to death.

“He was sentenced to death without legal representation. It is unacceptable. And the court found in our favour that there were procedural irregularities. We were hoping that the court will set him free but unfortunately that didn’t happen and the matter has now been remitted back to the Shari’a court and it will be heard by another judge. And will be with proper guidance and legal direction. We will defend this robustly even up to the Supreme Court.”

On the constitutionality of the Shari’a penal code, he said, “we will go back and study the judgment and decide if we want to go to the court of appeal and Supreme Court thereafter. We want to know if the Shari’a penal code is in conflict with the Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution which says the Federal or state government must not be seen to be promoting any religion. That is what Kano State is doing.”

On his part, the State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Musa A. Lawal said on one hand the judgment was a victory for the people of Kano especially that the court reaffirmed that the Shari’a penal code law has come to stay in the state.

“Constitutionally, the courts are created so that people can go there to get justice. The court today, reaffirmed that the Shari’a penal code law in Kano state is here to stay because in the appeal, the appellant clearly claimed that the law is contrary to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the court says no that the Shari’a penal code is a law that is here to stay in the state. So of course, this is a victory for the people of Kano state on one side.

“On the second part, if you look at the second case which was a minor, what the court says is that he is a minor and so cannot be tried as he has not attained the age or incurring liability. That is the reason why he was discharged and acquitted not because the Shari’a penal code law was unconstitutional or for any other reason.

“To buttress that fact, the second case was ordered for retrial under the said law. And the only reason given there was based on the constitutional provision especially when you are charging someone with a capital offence you need to get him a lawyer. There was no legal representation on his part. So if you look at the two cases it is a victory for the people of Kano state and victory for the Shari’a penal code,” Mr Lawan stated.

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Kano Assembly asks Ganduje to sack, prosecute Muhuyi

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Muhuyi Magaji Rimingado

Nasiru Yusuf

Kano State House of Assembly has recommended the immediate sack and arrest of the suspended chairman of the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti Corruption Commission Muhuyi Magaji Rimin Gado.

KANO FOCUS reports that the resolution was made during plenary presided over by the Speaker Hamisu Ibrahim Chidari.

While presenting the report, the chairman of the ad-hoc committee, Umar Musa Gama explained that the 12 member committee had concluded it’s investigations and had mapped out 5 recommemdations.

He pointed out that the recommendations include immediate sacking of the suspended chairman, arrest and prosecution of Mr Magaji as well as setting up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the financial activities of the commission from the year 2015 to date.

Speaking to journalists shortly after the sitting, the majority leader of the House, Labaran Abdul Madari said the joint committee set up by the House to investigate Muhyi found out that the medical report submitted by the counsel to suspended chairman is fake.

He noted that the committee also recommended that the state civil service should take appropriate action on Isah Yusuf a level four officer serving as accountant at the Commission.

Madari said the committee also called on the accountant earlier rejected by Mr Magaji to assume duty as soon as possible.

It will be recalled that the House has on July 5 recommended the suspension of Mr Magaji and constituted adhoc committee to investigate a petition written against him from the office of the Accountant General of the state.

The Petition

The petition read in part:

“With due respect to Honourable Speaker and honourable House in general, I wish to present a complaint to you that on April 2021, the office of the accountant general release a posting of accounting staff to various ministries and departments including Public Complaint and Anti Corruption Commission.

“But this posting number  C.5/AG/1.1/95 dated 15th March, 2021, the chief accountant posted to the commission have reported to the office of the accountant general, on 28th June, 2021 that he was denied taking over the financial activities of the commission as head of account as indicated in the posting letter. Copy attached.

“Furthermore, not only the chief accountant was denied to take over the responsibility as head of account, rather he was issued with a rejection letter reference number: PCAC/June/1/Vol. 1/SS/ dated 28 June, 2021 asking him to report back to the office of the accountant general, for his services were not needed in the commission.

“While an officer, a clerical officer for that matter, on grade level 04 is still maintain and act as head of account of the commission. Copy also of the rejected letter attached.

“Accordingly, this act by rejecting him as head of account of the commission violated section 28 (b) of Kano state financial management law which gives the accountant general power to provide the accounting staff to each government ministries or extra ministerial departments. Copy also attached of the stipulated law.

“Based on the above, the office of the accountant general is kindly appealing to the honourable House to take appropriate measures towards the complain please.

“Shehu Abbas Mu’azu, the accountant general of the state.”

Constituting probe

After reading the petition, the speaker open the floor for members to propose how the House should treat the matter.

In his contribution, the House leader and member representing Warawa constituency Abdul Madari, advised the House to allow committee on Public Complain and Anti Corruption to investigate the matter, and report back for further deliberation.

In his submission the deputy speaker and member representing Sumaila constituency Hamza Zubairu Masu supported the position of Mr Madari and call on the House to suspend Mr Rimingado to allow uninterrupted and thorough investigation.

Also a member representing Rogo local government Magaji Zarewa supported the view of previous members and suggested Mr Rimingado should be suspended pending the outcome of House investigation.

Other members who supported the suspension of Mr Rimingado include  Ali Ibrahim Shanono (Bagwai/Shanono), Abdullahi Yaryasa (Tudunwada), Kabiru Hassan Dashi (Kiru), (Gwarzo) and Garba Ya’u Gwarmai (Kunchi/Tsanyawa).

After thorough deliberation, the House suspended the chairman of the Anti Corruption Commission for a period of one month and constituted a committee to investigate the matter.

The Committee has Chairman on Public Complain committee Umar Musa Gama (chairman), Chairman House Committee on Judiciary, Lawan Shehu (member), chairman House committee on Public Account Ibrahim Doguwa (member), chairman House committee on finance Magaji Dahiru Zarewa (member) and Chairman House Committee’s on Hajj Sale Ahmad Marke (member).

The Committee has Deputy Director Legal in the House as secretary and secretary Public Account Committee as Co-secretary.

Adhoc committee invites Muhuyi

The adhoc committee has invited Muhuyi to appear before it on July 14.

However, on the scheduled day Mr Magaji through his counsel Mr Fari requested for some facilities to enable him prepare a defence.

Mr Fari also told journalists that his client cannot appear before the house as earlier scheduled, because he is currently undergoing diagnosis at National Hospital Abuja.

He said has submitted a copy of laboratory form and letter to the secretary of adhoc committee Abdullahi Bature requesting for another time to honuor the invitation of the house after his medical appointment.

“For two reasons he (Mr Magaji) is not here, one on health ground, number two we wanted to have adequate time and have facilities to prepare for our defence.

“Mr Magaji was suspended on 5th day of July, 2021. And no single document was served on him from 5th July, 2021 to date. He was not served with a letter of suspension, he was not served with a copy of allegation against him. No single document was served on him.

“The only document that we received is the letter dated the 12th day of July, from the House inviting to appear before the committee without indicating the name of the complainer or the petitioner, the allegation against him, nothing.

“We are requesting for the copy of certified true copy of the petition written against him. Because he was not served with the petition, we heard it over radio.

“Then we are applying for certified true copy of the text of the House resolution conducted on the 5th day of July, 2021 concerning the issue. Then we are applying for the press releases issued by the Kano state House of Assembly on the 5th and 7th day of July, 2021. This is what we are demanding from the House.

Muhuyi’s medical report not authentic

However, the Hospital in a letter dated July 19, 2021 and sent to clerk of Kano state House Assembly said there is no patient named ‘Muhuyi Magaji’ in their hospital record and no folder was opened in that name.

The letter written by the Director Clinical services in the Hospital, Aisha Umar said the name and signature of the doctor (Dr. Bayo) on the medical report do not belong to any staff of National Hospital, Abuja.

It therefore declare the medical report as ‘NOT authentic’.

However, the Hospital in a letter dated July 19, 2021 and sent to clerk of Kano state House Assembly said there is no patient named ‘Muhuyi Magaji’ in their hospital record and no folder was opened in that name.

The letter written by the Director Clinical services in the Hospital, Aisha Umar said the name and signature of the doctor (Dr. Bayo) on the medical report do not belong to any staff of National Hospital, Abuja.

It therefore declare the medical report as ‘NOT authentic’.

The letter reads in part:

“Kindly refer to your letter with ref. No KNHA/CON/077 dated 16th July, 2021 on the above subject matter, in which you requested the hospital to verify the authenticity or otherwise of attached medical report/documents.

“Following your request on the above, and subsequent investigations, we wish to state the following findings:

“There is no patient named ‘Muhuyi Magaji’ in their hospital record and no folder was opened in that name.

“That by our records, the name and signature of the doctor (Dr. Bayo) on the medical report do not belong to any staff of National Hospital, Abuja.

“Laboratory investigation in the National Hospital are no longer manually written on paper, but electronically transmitted.

“In the light of the above Sir, the medical report/documents which you attached it’s photocopies are not authentic.

“On behalf of the Chief Medical Director, please accept our warm regards.

“Dr A. A Umar, Director, Clinical Services/CMAC on behalf of the Chief Medical Director.”

Muhuyi risks 14 year jail term of

A Kano based private legal practitioner Abdulaziz Adamu Ahmad said Mr Magaji may get up to 14 years for presenting false medical report to Kano state House of Assembly.

Barr. Abdulaziz Adamu Ahmad

Ahmad said the act of Mr Magaji amount to an offence known as ‘forgery’ as stated by section 362 of Penal Code of Northern Nigeria.

According to Mr Ahmad the ingredients of that offence include presenting false document to public institution with the intention of misleading that institution to believe that said document is genuine and is from lawful authority.

Mr Ahmad added that section 364 of Penal Code stipulated a fourteen year jail term for such offence with imprisonment or both imprisonment and fine.

He described Magaji’s act as “Illegal and embarrassing’ that shall not be sweep under the carpet.

The legal practitioner suggested that the matter should be forwarded to police for thorough investigation.

What law says on forgery

Section 362 (A) of penal code defined forgery as “A person is said to make a false document – who is dishonestly or fraudulently makes, signs, seals, or execute a document or part of a document or mark denoting the execution with the intention of causing it to be believed that such document or part of a document was made, signed, sealed or executed or at a time which he knows that it was not made, signed, sealed or executed.”

Also section 364 of the same penal code said “Whoever committs forgery shall be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to fourteen years or with fine or with both.”

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APC Ward Congress: Kano opts for consensus in selecting party leaders

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Nasiru Yusuf

As Ward Congress for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) draws nearer, across the country, APC stakeholders in Kano have on Sunday adopted consensus arrangement in the forthcoming congress.

KANO FOCUS reports that a statement issued by Abba Anwar, spokesperson of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje on Sunday said the decision was reached at a meeting of highest decision making body of the party held at Africa House, Government House, Kano.

He said those in attendance include members of the National and State Assemblies, party leaders and elders as well as former Deputy Governors.

According to the statement two former Governors and now Senators, Kabiru Gaya and Ibrahim Shekarau as well two serving Ministers from Kano state have sent their apologies.

Others who attended the stakeholders meeting were Commissioners and other members of the State Executive Council, chairmen of the 44 local governments, party chairmen from all 44 local governments, Caucus leaders from all the 44 local governments, among other stakeholders.

In his address Governor Ganduje expressed appreciation to stakeholders for coming up with the idea of consensus arrangement.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje

“I am delighted to see that you have all decided that the forthcoming Ward Congress, slated for Saturday, 31st July, be conducted under consensus arrangement. This decision of yours, will surely strengthen the process and make our party to be more peaceful.”

“We thank you for taking this decision. We were happy with the result we saw last time during our local governments election, when we followed your advice, the stakeholders.

“It was only in one local government, when primary election took place in filling our candidate for the Chairmanship. And at the end of it, it was the person, who was earlier endorsed by the stakeholders, that made it,” the governor said.

Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna

The consensus arrangement, according to the governor that was embraced during the local government election, was what saved the party from plunging into crisis.

“We don’t want crisis in our party, that is why we are always determined to accept decision of our stakeholders at whatever level in the state.”

“As we are going for confirmation of our consensus, during the Ward Congress, we must make sure that, those to emerge as leaders, are loyal party members, who are committed and determined in the spirit of our party. As we are facing general elections.”

“All confirmation of our consensus must be held at party offices at Ward levels. Not in any other person’s residence. Party process and procedures must be respected.”

“We are sending monitors and observers to come and see how the process will be conducted. Members of the Press are free to go and see. So also members of civil society groups. They can all go and see democracy in action,” he concluded.

All those who spoke at the meeting lend their support to consensus arrangement for the upcoming Ward Congress and other congresses.

Abdullahi Abbas

Those who spoke included the State Party Chairman, Abdullahi Abbas, Speaker State House of Assembly, Hamisu Ibrahim Chidari, Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Alhassan Ado Doguwa and Commissioner for Local Governments and Chieftaincy Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo.

Engr Hamisu Chidari

 

Murtala Sule Garo

Musa Ilyasu Kwankwaso

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Abduljabbar accuses Ganduje of linking him with Boko Haram, Maitatsine

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Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara

Nasiru Yusuf

The legal team of the embattled cleric AbdulJabbar Sheikh Nasiru Kabara has accused Kano State Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of allegedly linking the cleric to the dreaded Maitatsine and the Boko Haram group.

Addressing journalists on Sunday, the team led by Saleh Bakaro, said the Governor while addressing Islamic cleric on Monday, also allegedly admitted of making order for the detention of their client.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Bakaro, who accused the Governor of concluding that the cleric abused Prophet Muhammad while the case is still in court, also challenged the legality of arraigning the cleric in court at 7.30pm without access to his legal team while his phones were also confiscated.

“As Lawyers, we are not unaware of the fact that there are pending cases before the State and Federal High Courts as well as the Upper Sharia court.

“What prompted us to address you today concerning the issues is the unfortunate development where the Chief Executive of the Government of Kano state made some disturbing utterances which we view as being prejudicial and threat to the cause of justice as it relates to our client, Shiekh Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara.

Barr. Saleh Bakaro

“On Monday 19th July,2021, the Governor of Kano state in the midst of some religious personalities made statements implying and linking our client to the dreaded Maitatsine and Boko Haram groups.

“The Governor also admitted making the Order for the detention of our client at the National Correctional Centre Kano, the Order which ought to have been made by the court before which our client is standing trial in case No. CR/1/2021,” Bakaro alleged.

The team however cautioned the Governor against further interfering in the case, while equally calling on International Bar Association and other relevant stakeholders to closely monitor the activities and ensure justice is served.

“We are afraid the governor maybe the one to write the judgment with the way and manner the case is going. We therefore call on the Executive Governor of Kano state to desist from further interfering in the cause of the judicial process as all the issues are now before various courts of law.

“We also call on all stakeholders including the International Bar Association, Nigerian Bar Association, Civil Society Organisations and security agencies of Nigeria to closely monitor the activities of the Kano state government in relation to the cases and ensure that justice is not only done but seen to have been done to our client,” Bakaro said.

When contacted for reaction, Commissioner for Information Malam Muhammad Garba said government will not react on matter already before the court.

The Upper Sharia court sitting on Kofar Kudu has fixed July 28, 2021 to hear the blasphemy charge against Sheikh Abduljabbar who is presently remanded at Kano correctional centre.

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