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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2004   :  NG Judicial Jan 2004

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NIGERIA

Judicial CP - January 2004



Corpun file 13124

masthead
The Star, Johannesburg, South Africa, 8 January 2004

'Pregnant girl's rights need to be protected'

By Hans Pienaar and Sapa-AP

The South African government has been urged to call on Nigeria to overturn a sentence of 100 lashes imposed on a 15-year-old girl allegedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather.

The girl, now six months pregnant, will be whipped once she has had her baby, a Nigerian sharia court decided after finding her guilty of having pre-marital sex.

Her stepfather, farmer Umaku Tori, 45, was sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery last week. The pair have until January 29 to appeal.

On Wednesday the Democratic Alliance said the sentence on the girl was an abrogation of several rights, against which the South African government had to take a stand. The case showed that abuse of women in Nigeria had worsened.

The party's Women's Network co-ordinator, Helen Zille, said she had written a letter to Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urging her to call on Nigeria to overturn the girl's sentence.

Dlamini-Zuma was expected to respond to the letter on Thursday after her return from Haiti, where she attended its bicentennial celebrations.

Zille said it was outrageous that the victim of statutory rape - in most countries the girl would be under the age of consent - should get 100 lashes.

Last year, the case of Amina Lawal succeeded in uniting women across party and religious lines in protest. Lawal's sentence to death by stoning for adultery was overturned in September by a sharia court of appeal after sustained international pressure.

In the latest case, the sharia court in the remote town of Alkaleri, 80km north-east of the Bauchi state capital, heard that the girl's mother married Tori following the death of the girl's father 13 years ago.

In September, the teenager was found to be pregnant. The girl told her family that her stepfather had raped her in July when she took him food while he was working in the fields.

The pair were later arrested by police, and Tori confessed to having sex with the girl on three or four occasions.

Abubakar Imam, an official of the Bauchi state sharia court of appeal, said the girl's sentence was "lighter" because she was a minor, and, being unmarried, did not technically commit adultery, officials said.

In her letter to Dlamini-Zuma, Zille wrote: "If we do not stand up for the rights of an individual in such circumstances, when the eyes of the world are focused on her plight, then how can we expect the world to accept our undertaking to respect and protect human rights under the AU charter."




Corpun file 12754

Weekly Trust, Kaduna, 24 January 2004

Niger Delta Youths Dethrone King With 60 Strokes of Cane

By Yusuf Ozi-Usman
Niger-Delta

If anybody had told King Ebimodi Agari, the traditional ruler of a small settlement around the Mbiama riverine area of Ahoada West Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on January 15th this year that he would face a gruelling experience in the hands of the irate youths in the village, he would have waved it aside as idle talk.

That day, the youths in the village had positioned themselves in strategic points around Agari's palace. The angry youths were not there for a picnic or handshake with the ruler who was being expected to arrive from Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State.

Shortly after the youths had taken position with whips and sturdy sticks dangling from their hands, the ruler arrived in a 505 saloon car.

When he alighted from the car, he smiled and walked towards the gate of his palace, but the youths moved fast to block him.

"We built this palace for our king who should always represent our interests and aspirations, but you have failed us and you can't be our ruler now," the youth leader declared to Agari who at first looked unruffled.

As the king opened his mouth to speak, the youths descended on him, removed his red cap and quickly threw him on the ground. Some of the youths held his hands, while others held his legs. The youth leader and five others took turn to give the erstwhile king ten lashes each.

They later put him back in the 505 saloon car and asked his driver to take him back to Yenagoa. The youths matched away, singing victory songs.

One of the youths, who gave his name simply as Thomas, told Weekend Trust in an interview that Chief Agari had betrayed the people in the community by collecting huge sums of money from certain oil companies on behalf of the people and diverting the money into his personal account. The money was meant for compensation to the people in the area whose farmlands had been devastated by oil pollution.

Thomas stated that prominent members of the community had similarly betrayed the people in the past but that they thought Chief Agari would be different.

Asked what the people in the community would do now that they had dethroned their king, Thomas said they would soon appoint a new traditional ruler "even if it means the person would be one of us (the youths)."

Weekend Trust noted that no single policeman was around to save King Agari from the humiliation (our reporter could not take pictures because of the threatening stance of the youths). It was learnt that the youths are always in charge in the village and that they always clash with any security agent that surfaces in the area for whatever purpose.

The dethroned chief was not available for comment on the humiliation he went through. Weekend Trust gathered that he was immediately driven out of the village to seek for medical attention in nearby Port Harcourt.

Copyright 2004 Weekly Trust. All rights reserved.




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