Nigerian girl spared death by stoning

An Islamic court in northern Nigeria has discharged and acquitted a pregnant teenager of her conviction for adultery, for which she had been sentenced to be stoned to death.

    Hajara Ibrahim (L) was denied the right to defend herself

    Presiding judge Muhammad Mustapha Umar of the Upper Sharia court

    said on Wednesday that the lower Sharia (Islamic law) court was wrong in

    sentencing Hajara Ibrahim, 18, to death by stoning last October.

    "This court observes the following faults in the lower court

    judgement. Firstly, the judge was wrong in sentencing Hajara to 100

    lashes and death by stoning, all at the same time," he said.

    "Secondly, Dauda Sani was charged to court for having an affair

    with Hajara which he denied. Therefore, the lower court should have

    dismissed the case and sentenced Hajara's father who was the

    plaintiff to 80 lashes for slander."

    The judge at the court in Dass, in the northern Bauchi state,

    said the lower court also erred by not giving Hajara the chance to

    defend herself.

    Health worries

    "Any judgement passed without chance of defence is null and

    void. Based on these reasons, this court hereby nullifies the lower

    court judgement and discharges and acquits Hajara Ibrahim," he

    added.

    Judge Umar said anybody who is not satisfied with the ruling can file an

    appeal at the Sharia court of appeal.

    Nigeria's Muslim north has largely
    opted for Islamic law

    Hajara's

    lawyer, Abd al-Qadir Sulaiman, had argued that the October

    ruling was invalid because Hajara had not consummated her marriage

    before sleeping with her boyfriend and conceiving a child

    .

    Following the ruling Hajara Ibrahim said she was happy and thanked those who

    assisted her.

    "My main worry now is my health and that of my child. I hope for

    a safe delivery," she said.

    Controversial punishments

    The 18-year old said she has forgiven her boyfriend for denying he had an

    affair with her. "I have left him to his conscience," she said.

    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.

    "Any judgement passed without chance of defence is null and

    void. Based on these reasons, this court hereby nullifies the lower

    court judgement and discharges and acquits Hajara Ibrahim"

    Judge Muhammad Mustapha Umar,

    Upper Sharia Court,
    Bauchi state, Nigeria

    No stonings have yet been carried out, but several men and women

    around the region have been convicted of a variety of sexual crimes

    - adultery, rape or sodomy - and are awaiting news of their

    appeals.

    Proponents of Islamic law say the punishments are a small part of a system which guarantees law and order and the wellbeing of society.

    However, human-rights groups have denounced the punishments as barbaric.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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