Yahaya Sharif-Aminu

Key Fact:

Islamic gospel musician from Kano State

Detained Since:

Mar 1, 2020


Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is a little-known Islamic gospel musician from Kano State, northern Nigeria. He belongs to the Tijaniyya order, a popular Sufi Islamic order across North and West Africa. Within the Tijaniyya, he belongs to what is sometimes called the Niassene Tijaniyya after a Senegalese shaykh named Ibrahim Niasse (1900-1975), who played a pivotal role in spreading and reviving the Tijaniyya from Senegal to Sudan.

Sharif-Aminu was accused of one count of insulting the religious creed, contrary to Section 382 (6) of the Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law of 2000, for a series of audio messages circulated via WhatsApp which became public knowledge in March 2020. The messages are said to have “praised an imam from the Tijaniya Muslim brotherhood (Ibrahim Niasse) to the extent it elevated him above the Prophet Muhammed.” Sharif-Aminu went into hiding following backlash for his recording, when protestors burned down his family home. He was subsequently arrested that same month.

On August 10, 2020, the Hausawa Filin Hockey upper-Sharia court found Sharif-Aminu guilty of blasphemy and sentenced him to death by hanging. He reportedly did not immediately deny the charges, although he has 90 days to repeal the conviction. It is reported that Sharif-Aminu had access to his lawyer, but that the trial was closed to the public. Since his conviction, it has been reported that Sharif-Aminu is being held in incommunicado detention with no access to legal representation and to his immediate family. In January 2021, a higher court in Kano state overturned Sharif-Aminu’s conviction and ordered his case to be retried due to irregularities in the original trial.

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