Church Applauds Acquittal of Nigerian Woman Sentenced to Stoning

Court Says Islamic Law Wasn´t Followed Correctly

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LAGOS, Nigeria, MARCH 25, 2002 ( The archbishop of Lagos hailed the news that Safiya Husseini, the Nigerian woman sentenced to stoning for adultery, was acquitted today by a court in Sokoto state.

“I thank the Lord because Safiya is now free. It is a victory against the Shariah, the Islamic law,” Archbishop Anthony Olubunmi Okogie said in statements to the Misna missionary agency.

“We expected such a sentence,” he said. “I am glad, because this woman was accused unjustly.”

Mohammed Tambari-Uthman, chief judge of the Islamic Court of Appeal, along with three other judges, explained that the proceedings against the 35-year-old woman had violated legal procedures of the Shariah itself. “And the police report did not include all the necessary information on the offense,” he added.

Earlier, Archbishop Okogie said he was prepared to take the condemned woman´s place, if the death sentence were confirmed.

“All those who accused this woman will have to answer to their own conscience and implore God´s forgiveness,” the archbishop added. “But they will also have to ask Safiya for forgiveness.”

He reiterated his criticisms against the application of the Islamic law in his country: “I totally agree with the Nigerian government, which has described the Shariah as unconstitutional. We cannot live in a nation that applies two different laws, one for Muslims, and the other for the rest of the citizens.”

The Nigerian episcopal conference has long appealed for respect for Article 10 of the federal Constitution on the laicism of the state. The government must protect the rights of all citizens and be impartial vis-à-vis religions.

Meanwhile, official sources in Bakori, in the neighboring state of Katsina, reported that on Friday an Islamic tribunal sentenced another woman, Amina Lawal, 35, to stoning for adultery, after proving that she had a child although she is divorced.

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