Monday, April 08, 2002

Having My Baby...
What a Wonderful Way to....get stone to death in Nigeria..

Nigeria Woman Appeals Death Sentence
Sun Mar 17, 3:14 PM ET
By GLENN McKENZIE, Associated Press Writer

Safiya Hussaini admits having a baby several years after divorcing her husband, but denies it was adultery — the crime that has made her the first person sentenced to death by stoning under Islamic law implemented in a dozen northern Nigerian states.

In the October judgment, an Islamic court ruled that Hussaini should be stoned to death while buried up to her waist in sand for committing adultery with a married neighbor.

Under Islamic law in Sokoto, adultery is punishable by death.

Donations of rice, blankets and baby's clothing have flooded in from around the globe.

As a result, for the first time, Hussaini, who is 35 years old but whose wizened face and calloused hands make her appear much older, has enough food to feed her family.

Under the October ruling, which has been placed on hold pending her appeal, Hussaini could be executed as soon as her child stops nursing.

Hussaini initially argued she was innocent of adultery because she had been raped by her neighbor, Yakubu Abubakar. However, she withdrew the rape accusation after Abubakar fled, apparently fearing arrest. She now accuses relatives and other associates of pressuring her into making the accusation.

During a brief appearance to launch her appeal in January, Hussaini's lawyers said her ex-husband, Yusuf Ibrahim, was the father of the child. Hussaini repeated the claim, saying the conception had occurred before they divorced "some years ago." Sokoto's Islamic law accepts arguments that conception and birth could occur up to seven years apart despite the biological improbability, her lawyers argue. The defense hopes the appeals court will accept that argument as a face-saving device for all sides.

Sokoto's Islamic law, introduced in early 2001, requires that an alleged adulterer confess, or that at least three other witnesses testify. Prosecutors admit they have not fulfilled that requirement. The defense has also raised questions as to the very definition of adultery, and whether it could have been committed after Hussaini had been divorced.

Nigeria, a nation of 120 million people belonging to 250 distinct ethnic groups, has long been riven by cultural and political divisions that periodically flare into violence.

Hussaini, despite the turmoil surrounding her, says if her conviction is overturned she plans to get married again — to her ex-husband Ibrahim. "I hope we can move ... and start again," she said.