Nigeria: The grounds on which Hajara Ibrahim was discharged

BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights
On the 10th November 2004 at the Upper Sharia Court Dass, Hajara Ibrahim was discharged by a judgement of the court delivered by Alhaji Mustapaha Umar.
The Judge in reaching his decision agreed to the grounds of appeal filed and argued by Barrister Abdulkadir Suleiman counsel to Hajara Ibrahim.
It was our contention that Hajara was not a party to the suit, which was filed by her father Ibrahim Auta Imam against Dauda. Hajara's father thinking that Dauda should be made responsible for his actions, reported the matter to the Sharia Court in Lere. Unfortunately this proved wrong because Dauda did not change his plea of "not guilty".

Hajara was found guilty of adultery by the Sharia Court in Lere without following the rules of court and the rules of evidence in reaching a guilty verdict in a criminal matter.

Hajara on hearing the verdict of the lower court appealed against it at the Upper Sharia Court Dass, leaving a window of opportuntiy for further grounds of appeal to be filed.

BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights instructed the law firm of B. Abdullahi & Co to take up the appeal of Hajara. Barrister Abdulkadir Suleiman, the principal partner appearing alone represented Hajara Ibrahim at the hearing of the appeal on the 27th of October 2004. Judgement was reserved for the 10th of November 2004.

On the 10th of November 2004 the judge (Alhaji Mustapha Umar) who sat alone discharged Hajara on the following grounds:

1.The lower court was wrong to have passed the sentence of stoning and caning at the same time thereby contradicting the law.

2.The parties to the suit before the court were different parties therefore it was wrong of the court to have ordered Hajara to produce witnesses in the said matter.

3.One school of Islamic thought championed (by Abu Hanafi) states that where a lady complains that she has been impregnated and the person acussed denies, it would be unsafe to convict the lady of either fornication or adultery.

4.The alleged confession was not voluntary in that she was not asked whether she knew the implications of her confession as required by law.

5.The right of iazri (allocotus) was not accorded to Hajara Ibrahim therefore the judgement was a nuliity.

Based on the above stated reasons doubt must be resolved in favour of the appellant (Hajara). The judgement of the Lere Sharia court is hereby set aside. The judge advised that the state has a right of appeal "Hajara is hereby discharged".

Report compiled by BAOBAB for Women's Human Rights