United Nations rights experts on Monday asked Nigeria to release a 22-year-old singer who was condemned to death over an allegedly blasphemous song, and said the sentence broke international law. Yahaya Aminu Sharif was sentenced last month by a sharia court in Kano, in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north, after he performed the song and shared it on WhatsApp. “Music is not a crime,” read a joint statement from the group of U.N. rapporteurs. “Application of the death penalty for artistic expression or for sharing a song on the internet is a flagrant violation of international human rights law, as well as of Nigeria’s constitution,” said Karima Bennoune, special rapporteur on cultural rights. The rights experts said Nigeria should overturn the death sentence and guarantee the singer’s safety while he launched an appeal. Protesters enraged by the song burned down Sharif’s family home on March 4. A spokesman for the Kano state judiciary, which runs sharia courts alongside the civil courts, said the decision was taken with legal backing, adding that he was unaware of the appeal. The Presidency declined to comment.
The Kwara House of Assembly Rerun Election Petition Tribunal, on Monday, nullified the victory of Ahmed Rufai of the All Progressives Congress in the by-election for Patigi Constituency. The tribunal subsequently declared Salihu Mohammed Gada of the Peoples Democratic Party winner of the by-election held on March 14, 2020. It explained that the judgment was based on the difference between ‘Adam’ and ‘Adama’ on the certificate of the candidate of the APC. The Kwara State APC has rejected the judgment. In a statement, Kwara APC complained that the PDP never called any witness from the examination body to substantiate its claim that APC candidate was not the owner of the certificate he tendered for his election. Part of the statement read: “The tribunal did not deny that we won the election overwhelmingly. It instead hid under a feeble excuse that the names of our candidate on the two certificates he presented to the electoral body are slightly different from each other to award our mandate to the opposition. The seat became vacant when Rufai’s brother, Saidu Ahmed, died in December 2019 after a brief illness.
The National Bureau of Statistics, with the support of the World Bank, has commenced the process of implementing the 2020 National Business Sample Census (NBSC) in Nigeria. This comes twenty-two years after the last business census of establishments in the country. The Survey which is coming after a similar one conducted twenty-two years ago (1997/98) is necessary, especially now that the current government is restructuring the economy for faster growth through support to Small, Medium and large-scale enterprises, in order to increase their productivity. The National Business Sample Census is expected to last two months from October 12 to December 12.
A plan to launch a new currency to replace the CFA franc used by several countries in West Africa may not happen for at least five years. Cote D’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara has said the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the project to introduce the Eco this year. Countries in the bloc have agreed to work towards reducing their budget deficits to below 3% of GDP, a measure of the value of their economies. But according to the Ivorian president, that is unlikely to happen for three to five years. Last December, the eight countries which use the CFA franc – all former French colonies plus Guinea-Bissau – said they would reduce their economic ties to France, while there has been a parallel move to create a single currency for the whole of West Africa. But the ambitious plan has been torpedoed by the economic fallout of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The International Monetary Fund-IMF has forecast sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will contract more than 3% this year.