25 October 2001

Nigeria: Death Sentence On Adultress: No Going Back, Says Gov

The Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Dalhatu Bafarawa, yesterday declared that the death sentence passed on a housewife, Hajiya Safiya Hussain, by the Upper Sharia Court in the state over committing adultery is irreversible.

The governor, who disclosed this on a Voice of America (VOA) Hausa programme monitored in Abuja, maintained that the judgment was based on the Islamic Legal Code (Sharia).

He said that changing the rules in favour the accused person would contradict the principles of the Islamic Legal Code. The governor pointed out that to ensure justice for her. Hajiya Safiya was given one month within which she could appeal, if she was not satisfied with the judgment.

When asked to comment on why Malam Yakubu Abubakar, whom Safiya claimed had seduced her was released unpunished by the court, Governor Bafarawa said: "You know Islam has laid down convictions under which a man or woman would be sentenced to death over committing adultery; among them, he said, three honest witnesses must testify that they found the accused at the exact time committing the said offence. "As for a woman who doesn't have a husband, but found to be pregnant, this shows she must have committed adultery," he said.

The Governor also refuted allegations that the Sharia, as practiced in some northern states, affects only commonman. "I assure you that whenever a prominent individual commits any offence no matter how high the position he held or is holding, he must be brought to court," he said.

Governor Bafarawa condemned some international human rights organisations that denounced the judgement, adding that "I am a Muslim, so I don't respect the un-Islamic propaganda of such organisations."

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