Convicted adulterer is the first man in Nigeria sentenced to death by stoning


NIGERIA: A Nigerian man has become the first in the country to be convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning by a Muslim sharia court, judicial officials said yesterday.

More than a dozen states in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria adopted the harsh Muslim penal code in 2000. Under the code, convicted adulterers can be stoned to death and convicted thieves can have their hands amputated.

Two women have been sentenced to death for adultery since the code was introduced, although one woman had her sentenced overturned and the other was given a two-year reprieve.

Yunusa Rafin Chiyawa was sentenced by a sharia court in the remote district of Ningi, in northeast Bauchi state, after admitting having sex with his friend's wife, an official of the state Ministry of Justice said. The father of two has 30 days to appeal against the sentence.

"Yunusa confessed when the charge was first read to him on the first day and (again) after the case was adjourned twice to allow him more time to think over the implication of his confession and the punishment the offence attracts under sharia," the official, who asked not to be named, said by phone from Bauchi.

"Under the circumstances, the judge had no choice but to convict him according to the sharia penal code," he added.

Yunusa was sentenced on June 21st, but details could only be confirmed with the court yesterday. Yunusa eloped with Aisha Haruna from Rafin Chiyawa village to Alkaleri local government area, where he kept her for two weeks, officials said.

The court acquitted the woman, who said she was hypnotised by Yunusa. She is the first Nigerian woman to be acquitted of the adultery charge under the sharia penal code.

Earlier in June, a sharia appeals court in north-west Katsina state granted a two-year reprieve to Amina Lawal Kurami, who was sentenced to stoning death for adultery and having a child outside of wedlock, to wean her baby.

In March, a sharia appeals court in nearby Sokoto state reversed a similar decision on Safiya Hussaini Tungar-Tudu, in Nigeria's most celebrated sharia case.

Katsina state is the only one to have executed anyone under the law. Sani Rodi was hanged there in January for multiple murder. The adoption of the Muslim law has polarised the multi-ethnic country and fuelled sectarian violence that has killed more than 3,000 people in northern Nigeria since 2000. - (Reuters)

AFP adds:

Poverty and the failure of governments to heed calls to get more involved are to blame for rising levels of domestic violence in sub-Saharan Africa, a top UN official said yesterday.

"Poverty makes family members violent, and when African governments deflect their attention from the problem, it goes beyond anybody's reach," the UN Population Fund Country Representative, Mr Coulibaly Sidiki, told Kenyan parliamentarians. He was speaking about the importance of passing the Family Protection and Domestic Violence Bill into law.

Mr Sidiki called on all African governments to enact legislation that protects the most vulnerable members of the society from "undue suffering and uncalled-for pain". He said: "Safety is a basic human right. When the insensitivity of governments' laws fail to guard its people, they should be amended or new ones should be enacted."