Tuesday, December 14, 2004

The return of the Nigerian Woman...

Shariah Court Nullifies Death Penalty for Nigerian Woman

A Shariah court in the central eastern Nigerian state of Bauchi has overturned a death sentence imposed on a 29-year-old woman who gave birth after a divorce and was convicted of adultery, her lawyer said Friday.

According to local new agencies, Daso Adamu was acquitted by the Upper Sharia court in Ningi on Thursday, Dec. 10, after the judge, Yusuf Suleiman, ruled that her being pregnant was not enough evidence to warrant a sentence that she be stoned to death.

"The court faulted the lower court's judgment, saying that since Daso became pregnant within two years of her divorce it was wrong to assume the pregnancy was illegal because there is the possibility that the pregnancy was from her former husband", defense counsel Abdulkadir Suleiman said, as reported by the Lagos-based Vanguard newspaper.

"The court further argued that her trial in court was improper because she didn't present herself to court but was dragged and tried against her wish," Suleiman added.

Adamu, who was sentenced to death by stoning last July by a lower Sharia court after she gave birth to her daughter, had challenged the sentence with the help of a women's rights group, Baobab, which paid for the legal services of the defense counsel.

While pregnancy is considered sufficient evidence to convict women of adultery under Shariah law, men can only be convicted on the basis of witness statements. Sources say in all but one case, men have been cleared, as Shariah courts found there was insufficient evidence to prove they had sex with the women. Tests to determine children's paternity have not been conducted by the courts.