Akin Ifeanyi Agunbiade
5 min readAug 30, 2020


If you’re not comfortable with strong recourse to faith-based arguments, you need not bother reading this article.

In summary, these are my basic positions –

  • The leaders of Kano State serve false gods
  • The death penalty for blasphemy provides further basis for either decentralizing Nigeria, such that the barbaric beliefs of some do not hold back the more progressive people
  • Alternatively, we must aggressively support action that seeks to overthrow the oppressive Sharia Law regime, as it has no place in the 21st century


You know the facts – Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a singer was sentenced to death because a song he released was found to be blasphemous. According to the barbaric legal system known as Sharia Law, he is to be sentenced to death.

The zealous Governor of the state who was caught on camera pocketing dollars into his babanriga will sign the death penalty with his two hands intact.

Funny because I was told that the same Sharia Law provides that the punishment for stealing is to cut off the hands of the thief. Maybe they’ve repealed that section of the law. Oh, I forgot.

Sharia Law hasn’t changed since the time of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). It lacks the dynamism that any half-decent legal system should have, but that’s not my cup of tea.

Across most major religions, the general position is that God, whether you call him Jehovah, Allah, Ra, Eledumare, Shiva, etc. is all-powerful.

Religious texts of various faiths are replete with stories of how this all-powerful God metes justice on those who dare push his buttons too far. He opens the ground to swallow them. They die suddenly in their sleep. Thunder strikes them dead on a clear, sunny day. Rivers overflow and lay entire sinful communities to waste. I could go on and on.

No matter what religion you turn to, one fact of the Supreme Being runs through - He does not require human assistance to get the job done. Like Don Corleone in ‘The Godfather’, his punishment is merciless and never anticipated.

But then, we all don’t serve the same God. At some point, some Gods must have weakened. Maybe lack of worship or years of fighting had weakened these gods, such that now, they need men to do their dirty work for them.

In light of that, it’s understandable why human help is needed to mete out punishment on those who offend them.

Put yourself in the position of such a god, would you pronounce punishment on your executioner?

Wouldn’t you look the other way when your henchman commits sins against you? You need him to carry out the vengeance on your enemies, so his sins can be forgiven.

When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense that the man who is happy to sign a death penalty for blasphemy should still have his hands intact.

In summary, there are two types of gods. There is the capital letter ‘GOD’, who forgives and punishes without human assistance. And there is a small god, who is nothing without his followers.


What defines a nation? Is it common religion, skin tone, or history? The history of nation-building tells us that all of this is necessary and also not necessary. The USA was built on Christian values and a desire for freedom from oppression. They may not always live up to those ideals through the course of their history, but they can always call on those ideals when push comes to shove.

What are our common values as Nigerians? One half of the country is embarrassed when it hears that people get arrested and lose body parts for stealing, adultery, or blasphemy. The other half is excited and finds such decisions satisfactory. How can two opposites coexist? If we cannot go our separate ways, then we must find a way to pursue our separate destinies as much as possible within the corporate entity known as Nigeria.

In the heydays of slavery in the USA, the Northern states found the slavery practices of their Southern counterparts barbaric, but it did not stand in the way of the rapid development of the North, while the South stagnated.

Nigeria today is much like the USA in the heydays of slavery. Northern Nigeria with Sharia Law is like Southern USA with slave plantations, refusing to move on from the past and join the modern age. The only difference is that at least, Northern USA was not held back by the South, the way Northern Nigeria constitutes a wedge on Southern development.

It’s very hypocritic that Kano State will sentence and execute a man for blasphemy in a court partly built with taxes collected from alcohol sales, cigarettes, and strip clubs in the South, but at the same time, will not permit those economic activities to take place.

The same Kano State impounds movies produced in the state for not matching their Sharia values, at the same time that Saudi Arabia is encouraging cinemas to open up. A case of misguided zealotry, at the expense of economic development.

Southern Nigeria values economic development, education, religious tolerance. Northern Nigeria is at the other end of these values. Why should we be forced to coexist this closely when our value systems have no congruency?

I have previously been tepid about supporting restructuring arguments, but if secession is too farfetched a goal, then all of us Nigerians must strongly support political leaders across northern and southern Nigeria who support decentralization and economic independence of the states.

If you must practice Sharia Law, then fund it with your groundnuts and millet, not with Niger Delta oil, Nnewi auto assembly, or Lagos-based services.


Even after the USA fought a Civil War to end slavery which was lost by the Southern states, they persisted with their regressive value system. They abolished outright slavery on the surface but replaced it with segregation.

Blacks couldn’t go to the same schools, use the same seats, marry whites, and were frequently the victims of mob attacks and lynching, simply because of their skin colour.

It took President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, to enforce a court judgment that ended declared segregation laws as incompatible in human rights and the US Constitution. This happened almost 80 years after the end of the US Civil War.

Unless Nigeria splinters anytime soon, we cannot avoid this fate, and it will not take 80 years like it did in the USA. The world is more connected and a much smaller place.

A time is coming when either by violence, court ruling, or executive fiat, the barbaric institutions of Sharia Law will be brought down in Northern Nigeria. It might not happen this year or in the next 10 years.

A hundred more singers might have to die for blaspheming against false gods, but as sure as seasons come and go, one day, the sun will set on Sharia Law, never to rise again.



Akin Ifeanyi Agunbiade

Associate, AELEX | AI Ethics & Governance Researcher | AI Systems Auditor (UK/EU GDPR)