Elijah Ode, a barber, has been detained and remanded in prison in Kano State for committing blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.
Elijah, an indigene of Benue state, is known in his environs for possessing peculiar skills in trendy haircuts.
On January 27, after he cut and dyed the hair of two customers in a flamboyant manner, a mob of religious chauvinists traced his shop, and he was arrested by men of the Nigeria Police Force. The two customers were tortured because of the haircut they spotted.
Elijah and the two customers have been detained for more than seven days.
According to Sunday Ukenya, Elijah’s cousin, the hairstyle was done with no intent to provoke anyone in the society. He added that his cousin was merely being innovative with his job in order to make a living and pay his fees for his tertiary education.
“The agitated Muslims charged my cousin to court because they felt the haircut constituted blasphemy,” he said.
The first hearing of Elijah’s case was held on Tuesday.
Elijah was remanded in prison without the option of bail.
Ukenya pleaded with Nigerians to offer prayers to reputable human rights activists to come to Elijah’s aid, saying the Nigerian Constitution provides for freedom of expression.
In August 2020, a singer in Kano was sentenced to death by hanging for blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad. His family house was burnt by protesters.
Rccently also, crates of beer were seized and destroyed in northern Nigeria, where alcohol is considered ‘haram’. This has fuelled more political division in the country. Nigeria’s Sharia Courts were reintroduced in 1999.
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