Imminent execution to Ahmadu Ibrahim and Fatima Usman, Nigeria sign now

A woman, Fatima Usman (30) and a man Ahmadu Ibrahim (32) have been sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria.

The Case
The couple, from New Gawu in Niger state were both arrested and charged with adultery following a police officer's report, which was brought to court in May this year. The initial sentence handed to Ahmadu Ibrahim and Fatima Usman was five years imprisonment with a fine of N15,000 (UKP75). The state judiciary of the Federal State then called for a retrial because they considered the punishment, which had been imposed in accordance with a "old law", too mild.

Their death sentences can be carried out at any time. This is despite outrage both in and outside Nigeria over the death sentences now regularly handed out in Nigeria's Sharia courts. Neither Ahmadu Ibrahim nor Fatima Usman seem not to have benefited from any legal representation during their trials.

Law
The new Sharia Penal Codes allow Sharia Courts, often only consisting of one judge and including no guarantees for adequate legal representation, to impose the death penalty even for offences which did not previously carry such a heavy punishment. Under the "old Penal Codes" of Northern Nigeria and also the Nigerian Criminal Code applicable in Southern Nigeria, cases attracting capital punishment could only be tried by the State High Court. Under the new Sharia Penal Codes, this is no longer the case. The new Sharia Penal Codes and Sharia Codes of Criminal Procedure violate many international human rights standards ratified by Nigeria, including the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishments (CAT) and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). By ratifying the Convention Against Torture in June 2001, the Federal Republic of Nigeria agreed not to apply such punishments.
Further, the rights of those tried under Sharia law are clearly protected to a lesser extent than the Penal Code for Northern Nigeria, valid for non-Muslim people, particularly concerning the right of representation, the right of appeal and the lack of knowledge of criminal procedure by the Court. Under Sharia law, the death penalty is applied for offences that are not punishable with the death penalty under the Penal Code for Northern Nigeria.

The use of the death penalty is incompatible with the Nigerian constitution and also with Nigeria's legal obligations under international human rights law and the African Charter for Human and People's Rights. Nigeria is currently in breach of several international legal standards, including those relating to the avoidance of discrimination against women, the elimination of torture and key fair trial provisions.
United Nations' Safeguards guaranteeing the protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty requires that in countries which maintain the death penalty it should only be used for most serious crimes - offences which are intentional and with lethal or other extremely grave consequences. The act of consensual extramarital sexual intercourse does not fulfil these conditions.
The Undersigned categorically oppose to the death penalty in all circumstances on the grounds that it represents the ultimate violation of the right to life guaranteed by international law.

Urgent Appeal
The Undersigned urge the Nigerian federal authorities to guarantee the constitutional right of appeal for all those condemned under Sharia-based penal codes, ensuring that they are able to appeal to higher jurisdictions not only at state level but also at Federal level.

The Undersigned remind the Nigerian authorities that the current practice and many regulations in the new Sharia Penal Code and Sharia Codes of Criminal Procedure violate many international human rights instruments ratified by Nigeria, including the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Undersigned urge the Nigerian federal authorities to guarantee the constitutional right of appeal for all those condemned under Sharia-based penal codes, ensuring that they are able to appeal to higher jurisdictions not only at state level but also at federal level.

The Undersigned are calling upon State Governor for Niger State Abdulkadir Kure (PDP), Minister of Foreign Affairs Alhaji Sule Lamido and Minister of Justice and Attorney general Kanu Agabi, to prevent this death sentence, imposed on Ahmadu Ibrahim and Fatima Usman, to be carried out, and to urge the state courts to respect the rights enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.

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Information

Leigh ChristianBy:
People and OrganizationsIn:
Petition target:
Abdulkadir Kure, Alhaji Sule Lamido and Kanu Agabi

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