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Judicial CP - September 2000

Corpun file 6142

Yahoo News, 15 September 2000

Pregnant Girl Ordered Caned in Northern Nigeria

GUSAU, Nigeria (Reuters) - A pregnant teenage girl has been sentenced to 180 strokes of the cane by a Muslim sharia court in northern Nigeria, officials said Friday.

Human rights activists have reacted angrily to the sentencing of 17-year-old Bariya Magazu after a trial likely to fuel controversy over the introduction of the strict sharia penal code in parts of northern Nigeria.

The court in Zamfara state, the first of Nigeria's regional governments to proclaim sharia law, tried Magazu on charges of having had pre-marital sex.

Multi-ethnic Nigeria has been sharply divided over sharia since late last year when Zamfara embraced it. Hundreds of people died in two bouts of Christian-Muslim bloodletting over plans to introduce it in neighboring Kaduna state earlier this year.

Non-Muslims oppose sharia for its tough sanctions, such as stoning for adultery and amputation of hands for theft.

Zamfara officials said the court in the state capital Gusau had earlier this week found Magazu, who is several months pregnant and being looked after by her parents, guilty of having sex illegally.

"The court sentenced her to 180 strokes of the cane, and she will be publicly flogged 40 days after she puts to bed (gives birth),'' one official told Reuters.

Rights groups described the sentence as barbaric and a violation of the girl's fundamental human rights.

"It's shocking and really very embarrassing. It is baffling why the Zamfara government would go ahead to enforce sharia to the extent of having to give a small girl 180 strokes of the cane," said Samson Bako of the Constitutional Rights Project.

Bako said a coalition of human rights groups was considering court action against President Olusegun Obasanjo's central government if it failed to stop the spread of sharia in the country.

Despite opposition, sharia appears popular in the predominantly Islamic north where some half a dozen states have adopted it or are about to do so.

blob Follow-up: 2 January 2001 - Canada Rises Up For Sharia Convict

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