The Nigerian Criminal Justice and the Belligerence of Blasphemy: Societal, Judicial and Islamic Law Perspectives

Saliu Jimoh, Abdulwahab D. Shittu, Sodiq S. Mustapha


Introduction to the Problem: Blasphemy in religion undoubtedly jeopardises the universal human right of freedom of religion in any society. Considering that it is ethno-religiously linked and sensitive in multi-religious environments, the offence is proscribed under the Nigerian laws. With the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria, the Criminal Justice System became expanded with the birth of a fully-fledged Shariah practice in some areas in Nigeria. The recent death sentence passed on a musician, Aminu, for the alleged offence of blasphemy by a Shariah Court in Kano State attracted the attention of the masses, particularly prompting the question of the propriety or otherwise of the punishment.

Purpose/Objective Study: This work examined the societal, judicial and Islamic law perspectives on blasphemy with a view to proffering viable options as punishment for the offence.

Design/Methodology/Approach: Doctrinal legal research methodology was adopted, and it involves primary sourcing materials from Quran, Sunnah, Acts and Cases. Secondary sources include journal articles, textbooks, official documents online and in newspaper.

Findings:  The findings revealed that the death penalty for the offence is incompatible with the most convincing opinion of scholars, the reality of Nigeria and the international best practices. It is consequently suggested that offence and punishments for blasphemy should be treated as a ta’zir, and the punishment should be less than death.

Paper Type: Research Article


Blasphemy; Shariah; Ta’zir; Shariah Penal Code; Islamic Law

Full Text:



S. 236 (1). (CFRN 1999 as amended). Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended). Nigeria.

Abozaid, A. (2016, 6 1). Critical Review of the Tools of Ijtihad Used in Islamic Finance. Islamic Economic Studies, 24(1), 77-94. doi:10.12816/0025317

Abubakar Dan Shalla Vs State, (2007) 18 NWLR (Pt.1066) pg. 251 (High Court 2007).

Al Bukhari, M. (2020). Sahih Bukhari (Without Repetition). (M. M. Uddin, Ed., & M. M. Uddin, Trans.) Muhee Uddin.

Al Subki, T. (2013). Al Ashbah Wa Naza'ir. Turath For Solutions. Retrieved from

Al'Ayni, B. (2018). Umdatul Qaari Sharih Sahih al Bukhari. (A. M. 'Amr, Ed.) Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al Kotoob Al Ilmiyah (DKI).

Al-Balas, Q. A.-D. (2021, 10 1). An Ethical Roadmap for Prioritizing Medical Resources Within Muslim Societies During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of Religion and Health, 60(5), 3372-3378. doi:10.1007/s10943-021-01344-0

Al-Jisas, A. (2014). Ahkamul Qur'an (1st ed.). (S. M. Jamil, Ed.) Beirut, Lebanon: Darul Fikr.

Alkhamees, A. (2017). An Overview of Shari'ah". In A Critique of Creative Shari'ah Compliance in the Islamic Finance Industry. Leiden, Netherland: Brill | Nijhoff. doi:

Al-Qurtubi, M. (2014). Jami li-Ahkam Al-Qur'an (Tafsir Al-Qurtubi) (4th ed.). (S. M. Al-Badri, Ed.) Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Al-Kotob Al-Ilmiyah (DKI).

Amnesty International. (2015). The State of the World's. London: Amnesty International.

Amnesty International. (2021). Nigeria: Further information: Retrial ordered for singer on death row:Yahaya Sharif-Aminu. Amnesty International. Retrieved from

Aran, G. (2016). Khilul Hashem: Blasphemy in Past and Present Israel.

Israel Studies, 21(2), 151-181. Retrieved from

Ashraf, S. (2021). Historical roots of antiblasphemy violence in Pakistan: Formation of self,. In Finding the Enemy Within. ANU Press. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from

Bos, S. J. (2008, February 13). Nigeria Christian Killed in Riot Over Blasphemy; Dozens Injured. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from Bos News Life:

Bourbeau, H., Umar, S., & Bauman, P. (2019). Shari’ah Criminal Law In

Northern Nigeria. United States Commission On International

Religious Freedom. Retrieved April 7, 2022, from

Coetsee, D., & Buys, P. (2018). A Doctrinal Research Perspective Of Master’s Degree. South African Journal of Higher Education, 32(1), 71-89. Retrieved April 4, 2022, from

Cox, N. (2020). Justifying Blasphemy Laws: Freedom Of Expression, Public Morals, And International Human Rights Law. Journal of Law and Religion, 35(1), 33-60. doi:10.1017/jlr.2020.11

Damidez, D. (2020, August 12). Blasphemy Cases In Nigeria. NaijaBiography. Retrieved 03 10, 2022, from Accessed on 20th August,2021

Daniel, I. (2003, February 17). The Guardian. Retrieved september 6, 2021, from The Guardian:

Davie, F. A., & Perkins, T. (2021, october 17). The Hill: US should call out Nigeria's horrendous religious freedom record. The Hill. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from

Gawas, V. M. (2017). Doctrinal legal research method a guiding principle in reforming the law and legal system towards the research development. International Journal of Law, 3(5), 128-130.

Hamzah, A. (2020, September). Death Sentence for Blasphemy Elomba News. Retrieved April 7, 2022, from

Innocent Ekezie, N. (2021). Blasphemy and The Death Penalty Under Shariah Law in Nigeria: A Legislative Monstrosity. Madonna University, Nigeria Faculty oF Law, Law Journal, p. 31-45.

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). (2008, February 4). Nigeria: Deadly Sectarian Riot over Alleged Blasphemy. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). Retrieved November 10, 2021, from Accessed 21 November 2021

Johnson, E. M. (2014). Examining Blasphemy: International Law, National Security and the U.S. Foreign Policy regarding Free. 71 A.F. L. Rev. 25 (2014), 71(25), 26-65.

Kamali, M. H. (2019). Principles and Philosophy of Punishment in Islamic Law with Special Reference to Malaysia. ICR Journal, 10(1), 9-21. Retrieved 3 25, 2022, from

Khalid, I., & Sharma, M. (2015). Blasphemy law of Islam-Misconceptions and Fallacy. Journal of Islamic Studies and Culture American Research Institute for Policy Development, 3(1), 48-57.

Nickel, G. D. (2017). The Islamic Punishment, Diversities in Sources and

Society. Dynamics of Muslim Worlds: Regional, Theological, and

Missiological Perspectives, 135-155. Retrieved from

Rumi, R. (2018, 04 03). Unpacking The Blasphemy Laws Of Pakistan. Asian Affairs, 49(2), 319-339. doi:10.1080/03068374.2018.1469338

Sediqi, M., & Shuaib, F. (2021). Mass Media Rights Under Afghanistan Laws: Challenges And Prospects. Journal of Islamic Law Review, 99-122.

Shittu, A. D. (2015). A Study of the Enforcement of Ta'zir under the Shariah Penal Code of Zamfara State. Journal of Islam in Nigeria, 1(1).

Tertsakian, C. (2001, December). Nigeria: Jos, A City Torn Apart, Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. Human Right Watch, 13(9 (A)). Retrieved from

Totten, M. J. (2013, February). Radical Islam's Global Reaction: The Push for Blasphemy Laws. World Affairs , 175(9), 25-31.

U.S. Department of State. (2008). Nigeria: International Religious Freedom Report 2008. Retrieved September 12, 2021, from

UN Human Rights Committee (HRC). (2011). General comment no. 34, Article 19, Freedoms of opinion and expression. UN Human Rights Committee (HRC). Retrieved from

Usman Kaza V State, 7 NWLR (PT 1085)P 125 (High Court 2008).

World-Watch-Monitor. (2016, November). Update: Nigeria: Suspects in Blasphemy Case Released. World Watch Monitor. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from

Yushu'a, I. (2008, August 11). (Daily Trust) Retrieved April 7, 2022, from

Yusuf, N. (2020). Blasphemy: Ganduje meets clerics, pledges to sign death sentence. Kano: Kano Focus. Retrieved March 10, 2022, from

Zakariyah, L. (2015). Legal Maxims in Islamic Criminal Law: Theory and Application. Brill's Arab and Islamic Laws, 9, 1-23.

Zango v. Gov. of Kano State, 74045 (Court of Appeal Mar 10, 1986).

Zuhayli, W. (2014). Al-Tafsir Al-Munir fi Al-Aqidah Wa Al-Syari'ah wa Al-Manhaj Karya. (A. H. al-Kattani, Trans.) Bahasa, Indonesia: Jakarta : Gema Insani.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2022 Jurnal Hukum Novelty

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Jurnal Hukum Novelty

ISSN 1412-6834 (Print)

ISSN 2550-0090 (Online)

This journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Jurnal Hukum Novelty Stats



Jurnal Hukum Novelty has been covered by the following indexing sites:




Jurnal Hukum Novelty is member of: