Last edited: December 30, 2004

Nigerian Teen Appeals Stoning

News, October 27, 2004
South Africa

Dass, Nigeria—A pregnant Nigerian teenager appeared before an Islamic court on Wednesday to hear her lawyer launch an appeal against her conviction for adultery, for which she was sentenced to be stoned to death.

Hajara Ibrahim, 18, sat quietly in a makeshift cubicle in the simple one-storey hall housing the Upper Sharia Court in Dass to hear her counsel challenge a ruling that she should be publicly flogged and put to death.

The lawyer argued that the 8 October judgment was invalid because Hajara had not consummated her marriage before sleeping with her boyfriend and conceiving a child and was thus innocent of the capital crime of adultery.

Father and alleged lover look on

“With these arguments we pray to God to quash the lower court judgement and acquit the accused,” he told the hearing, as Hajara’s father and her alleged lover looked on from the bare wooden benches of the courtroom.

“What we are saying is that Sharia should be implemented properly as prescribed by Islam and devoid of any doubt,” he declared.

Judge Mohammed Mustafa Umar agreed to study the evidence and adjourned the court until 10 November, when he will pass judgement.

Hajara ‘encouraged by hearing’

Afterwards, the heavily pregnant teenager told reporters that she felt encouraged by the hearing, and hoped that she might soon escape her sentence.

“I’m confident of winning the appeal. I’m confident of my lawyer,” she said.

If Hajara convinces the judge that she was never properly married then her offence could be reduced to one of fornication, and she would face 100 lashes rather than a death sentence.

Hajara is the latest young woman to be swept up into northern Nigeria’s stumbling five-year-old attempt to replace the vast region’s poorly administered secular criminal justice system with Islam’s strict Sharia law.

Since 1999, 12 states across the mainly Muslim north of the country have begun reintroducing Sharia principles into their penal codes, including punishments such as flogging, amputation and stoning.

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