The President of the Nigerian Bar Association – Mr. Olumide Akpata, in response to the allegations on the social media by Nigerians and calls by members of the Nigerian Bar Association on the Federal Correctional Centre, Kano to allow Yahaya Sharif-Aminu have access to his lawyers, set up a two-man Fact-Finding Committee made up of the NBA 1st Vice President – Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins and the National Welfare Secretary – Mr. Kunle Edun. The committee was mandated to urgently embark on a fact-finding mission to the Federal Correctional Centre in Kano.
On the 2nd day of September 2020, the 1st Vice President and the National Welfare Secretary visited the said Correctional Centre and sought audience with the Controller of the Correctional Centre.
Recall that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was recently sentenced to death by the Kano Upper Sharia Court having been convicted for blasphemy. The Governor of Kano State has been reported to have promised to sign the execution warrant if Yahaya Sharif-Aminu fails to appeal the death sentence within the statutory time allowed by law.
At the Correctional Centre, the NBA National Officers were informed that the Controller of the Correctional Centre was not available. They were granted an audience by the Second in command.
The NBA National Officers informed the said Second in Command about their mission at the Federal Correctional Centre, Kano. They requested to see Yahaya Sharif-Aminu in order to ascertain the veracity of the allegation that lawyers were not allowed to gain access to him. The said Second in Command informed the said National Officers that he does not have the authority to grant the access sought, but would seek the permission of his boss, the Controller (who was not available as at the time of the visit) before allowing the National Officers access to Yahaya Sharif-Aminu.
The afore-mentioned National officers were eventually denied access to Yahaya Sharif even after the said Second in Command made the call to his superior.
However, the said National Officers were able to confirm that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu has been denied access to any lawyer since his conviction. They were further informed that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was not represented by a lawyer during the trial at the Upper Sharia Court.
The Nigerian Bar Association states that since the visit was a fact finding mission, the NBA shall take further steps in ensuring that Yahaya Sharif is given the requisite opportunity to exercise his constitutional right of appeal and his right to be represented by a lawyer of his choice. It is imperative that Yahaya is granted access to a lawyer of his choice.
Dr. Rapuluchukwu Ernest Nduka
National Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association