Freedom of Religion and Belief in Nigeria — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:23 am on 6 February 2024.

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Photo of Fiona Bruce Fiona Bruce Conservative, Congleton 10:23, 6 February 2024

I am very pleased to hear the Minister speak about the high commission raising cases. Will he ask UK diplomats in Nigeria to raise, in particular, the case of Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, the 19-year-old Sufi Muslim who wrote a song that he sent to a friend on WhatsApp, which the friend then circulated. As a result, Yahaya was arrested in Kano state, charged and there was a court hearing. He had no legal representation and because he was found guilty of blasphemy, he was sentenced to death by hanging.

Fortunately, Yahaya’s case came to the attention of members of the international community who are concerned about freedom of religion or belief and a lawyer has now been found for him. I met that young lawyer twice in the last year, but the fact is, unfortunately, that when an appeal was made to the Court of Appeal, Yahaya lost. The case is now going to the Supreme Court in Nigeria. This is a very important case, because blasphemy should not be an offence and it certainly should not be subject to the death penalty. Will the Minister ask our representatives in Nigeria to advocate on Yahaya’s behalf as he awaits the date for the Supreme Court hearing?