A teenager condemned to death by stoning by a lower Shariah Court in Nigerian State of Bauchi for becoming pregnant outside wedlock is to know her fate, November 10 when an upper Shariah court will give its verdict.
The case of 18-year-old Hajara Ibrahim, which drew the attention of human rights organizations such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), is one of two recent cases in which a Nigerian woman was sentenced to death for becoming pregnant out of wedlock earlier.
According to CSW, Ibrahim was sentenced Oct. 5, confessing to have had a physical relationship with a man by the name of Dauda Sani, whom she claims had promised to marry her. Sani, however, denied the claim and since Ibrahim, did not have four male witnesses to support her contentions, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Under the controversial Islamic Shariah criminal codes, sex outside wedlock is considered adultery if one of the partners is or has ever been married, and can lead to a mandatory sentence of death by stoning. Also, under Shariah law, men can only be convicted of adultery on the basis of witness statements, while pregnancy is considered sufficient evidence to convict women.
“It is worrying that women are held to a different standard of evidence to men and that Shariah courts continue to hand down sentences that violate Nigeria’s constitutional and international obligations,” Chief Executive of CSW Mervyn Thomas commented late last week.
After the Lere Shariah Court in Bauchi State sentenced teenager to death by stoning, Ibrahim’s family appealed against the court judgment, arguing that there was no justice in the verdict that was meant to end their daughter's life by stoning.
According to Lagos-based Vanguard news, when the case came for hearing at the Dass upper Shariah court Wednesday Hajara’s counsel, Abdulkadi Suleiman, said the judgment of the lower court lacked merit, pointing out that the court sentenced her to death by stoning and at the same time to 100 strokes of the cane.
Suleiman maintained that the trial judge of the Lere Shariah court erred in law when he convicted Hajara for adultery when she was not even a party to the case before the court. He explained that the case brought before the court was between Hajara's father and the man suspected of being responsible for the pregnancy and that the court dragged the girl into it.
The counsel argued that the trial judge also erred in law for asking Hajara to produce her witness when she was not the person standing trial before the court. He also said the trial judge in the Lere Sharia court erred in law when he convicted Hajara to be stoned to death when there was no evidence before the court that the convict was once married and the marriage was consummated.
Following the hearing, Vanguard News reports that the Dass upper Shariah court will be deliberating the appeal filed against the lower Sharia court judgment and give its verdict on November 10.