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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Nigerian appeals Sharia sentence
Soldier in destroyed house
The introduction of Sharia sparked tension between Christians and Muslims
A woman in Sokoto in northern Nigerian is to appeal against the first death sentence passed since the state adopted strict Islamic Sharia law last year.


I do not agree with it because it is wrong and because he is guilty

Safiyatu Husaini

On Tuesday, a Sharia court sentenced 35-year-old divorcee Safiyatu Husaini to be stoned to death for adultery.

Residents in her village of Tungan Tudu reported the case to the police when they discovered that Miss Husaini was pregnant.

Although she was sentenced to death, Judge Alhaji Muhammad Bello Sanyinlawal acquitted 60-year-old Yahaya Abubakar, accused of impregnating her.

Confession

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.

Map of Nigeria's northern states
Multi-ethnic Nigeria has been bitterly divided over Sharia

Miss Husaini told the BBC she would fight the verdict,

"I do not agree with it because it is wrong and because he is guilty and he should be made to swear by the Koran," she said.

The judge said that the sentence should be carried out after Miss Husaini has weaned the eight-month-old baby girl that resulted from the affair.

She was also given one month to appeal against the judgement.

Crime and punishment

Sokoto is one of more than a dozen states in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria which 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.

Hundreds of people were killed last year in clashes between Christians and Muslims after the introduction of Sharia in some northern states.

The country's second city of Kano has also been hit by outbreaks of violence between the two faiths in the wake of the US bombing of Afghanistan.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
15 Oct 01 | Africa
Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split
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