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Nigeria death sentence reprieve

Nigeria death sentence reprieve

Author:
Publication: BBC News
Date: December 3, 2001

A court in northern Nigeria has ordered a stay of execution to a woman sentenced to be stoned to death despite saying she was raped.

The woman, Safiyatu Husaini, was convicted of adultery by a court in the north-western state of Sokoto after she had gone to court seeking an order that a 60-year-old man pay for her daughter's naming ceremony.

She says that he raped her but there were no other witnesses and she became the first person to be sentenced to death since Sharia was introduced in states across northern Nigeria in the past two years.

Appeals do not automatically stop sentences being carried out under Nigeria's Sharia Islamic law.

Reuters news agency quotes state officials as saying that the 35-year-old Ms Husaini, was given a death sentence because she was divorced.

If she had never been married, the sentence would have been 100 lashes.

Four witnesses

While she was sentenced to death, Judge Alhaji Muhammad Bello Sanyinlawal acquitted Yahaya Abubakar, accused of impregnating her.

Mr Abubakar, who is her cousin, is said to have admitted to police that he had sex with her three times.

But the judge dismissed the testimony of the three policemen who heard his confession because, under Sharia law, four witnesses are required in a case of this nature.

The sentence had been due to be carried out after Ms Husaini had weaned the baby girl that resulted from the affair.

Tensions

More than a third of Nigeria's 36 states, in the predominantly Muslim north of the country, have adopted Sharia law in the past two years.

A teenage mother Bariya Ibrahim Magazu was given 80 lashes early this year for committing adultery in neighbouring Zamfara, the first state to fully implement Sharia.

An elderly man was also sentenced to death by stoning for sodomy with a minor in Kebbi state, but that sentence is yet to be carried out.

Two people found guilty of theft have had their hands cut off in Zamfara and Sokoto states.

The introduction of Sharia has inflamed tensions between Christians and Muslims across Nigeria.

Communal clashes have led to thousands of deaths.
 


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