By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it was concerned about the sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to ten years’ imprisonment with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria.
Farouq was sentenced, after he was convicted of blasphemy on 10 August 2020.
UNICEF in a statement issued yesterday by Oluwatosin Akingbulu, Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships, said the sentence was unfortunate.
“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.”
The statement said the sentence was in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
It said the sentence was 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.
UNICEF called on the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.
UNICEF expressed appreciation of the strides recently made by the Kano State Government to pass the Kano State Child Protection Bill.
“This case further underlines the urgent need to accelerate the enactment of the Kano State Child Protection Bill so as to ensure that all children under 18, including Omar Farouq are protected – and that all children in Kano are treated in accordance with child rights standards,” said Peter Hawkins.