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7 May 2003

 

Nigerian Embassy’s Statement On The Fate Of Amina Lawal

 

In the past few days, the Embassy of Nigeria has been inundated with a deluge of letters, emails and facsimile messages, expressing profound concern on the fate of Amina Lawal, the Nigerian woman, who is currently facing trial according to the Sharia Law of the State of Katsina in Nigeria. The Embassy, therefore wishes to state as follows:

 

Contrary to rumours making the round, no court has given stoning order on Amina Lawal.

 

This rebuttal has become necessary following report that Lawal, is to be stoned to death on June 3, as a consequence of an order by the Supreme Court.

 

In every material sense, the report is totally untrue. The Nigeria Supreme Court has not even heard the case, so the question of passing judgement or upholding the death sentence does not arise.

 

The aforementioned report went further and announced to the world that “Nigerian Supreme Court had upheld the sentence on Lawal, over the issue of alleged crime of adultery committed by her on August 19, 2002.”

 

According to the report, “she is to be buried up to her neck and stoned to death.” Indeed the groups peddling the rumours said that: “her death was postponed so that she could continue to nurse her baby and that execution is now set for June 3.”

 

The embassy strongly condemns this unfounded and malicious report calculated to ridicule the Nigerian judicial system and the country’s image before the international community. There is no iota of truth in the whole presentation.

 

In fact, Lawal has three more stages of judicial appeals available to her under the Nigerian Constitution, which guarantees the sanctity of life, respect for human rights and the rule of law.

 

No Nigerian had been stoned to death since the introduction of the Islamic system in parts of the country. Nigeria is a federation of 36 states with Sharia Law in operation in less than one-third of the states.

 

May we quote, once again, from the President Obasanjo’s 2002 Independence Day message, to further buttress the position of the Nigerian Government on Amina Lawal’s case:

 

“Foreign investors have expressed apprehension about the Sharia judgement of stoning of women or men found guilty of adultery. Our assurance to those who care to listen is that we have a legal and judicial system, which grants any accused person the full opportunity of appeal to the highest court in the land. For this reason, we have never entertained doubts that whatever verdict a lower court may give, the appellate courts will ensure that justice is done. We fully understand the concern of Nigerians and friends of Nigeria, but we cannot imagine or envision a Nigerian being stoned to death. It has never happened and may it never happen.”

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