Yahaya Kakale, a 23-year-old trader from Kebbi State in northern Nigeria, was arrested at a roadblock by soldiers on suspicion of robbery in July 2001. Still in prison, he told Human Rights Watch his experiences:
Four soldiers started flogging me. They slapped me and kicked me with their boots.
The Qur'an says if any Muslim steals, his hand should be cut off
I had injuries on my ankles and wrists and head, and I was bleeding from my nose.
[At the police station] the police handcuffed me on my legs and arms. They raised me up on an iron rod, hung me and began to torture me.
They hit me with a baton and pressed the handcuff into my wrists. It felt as if my hands would fall off.
There were about five policemen, including the divisional police officer. He didn't beat me but he shook the handcuffs on me very hard.
He said, 'You must tell us you are the one who took the properties.' I felt my life was in danger so I said I was the one who took them.
The investigating police officer (IPO) said they would take me to the Sharia court at Jega and that if the judge asks me, I should explain exactly what I told the IPO in my statement so that the judge would sympathise and release me with just a few strokes.
[The judge] asked me if I stole the properties. I said yes. He asked if I was a Muslim. I said yes. He said: 'The Qur'an says if any Muslim steals, his hand should be cut off.'
He didn't ask me if I wanted a lawyer. The first hearing in court lasted only 30 minutes.
I didn't know the law
After the first trial, I appealed [in 2002]. One of my uncles found a lawyer for me.
[In court] I told them the police had tortured me and advised me to tell the judge I did it so that they would release me, but I had not known they would sentence me to amputation. I said I didn't know the law, which was why I accepted.
While I was in prison, some inmates found the place in the Qur'an where it says a forced confession can be withdrawn. I gave it to my lawyer but he rejected it.
The judge didn't allow me to talk. He said the court case had ended because the lawyer couldn't produce the verses and the court of appeal accepted the judgment of the first court.
The judge said: 'We can't cut your hand until the governor signs, so they will take you back to prison.' He said: ' If you are not satisfied, you can appeal to the court in Kaduna.'
I haven't appealed because I don't have any more money. My uncle has no money left. I don't have a lawyer anymore.
A further appeal has been filed on Mr Kakale's behalf to the Federal Court of Appeal in Kaduna. But in July 2004, no date had been set for the hearing and Mr Kakale was unaware of the development until contacted by Human Rights Watch.