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Urgent Interventions

Nigeria: Fatima Usman and Ahmed Ibrahim sentenced to death by stoning

Case NGA 111002 / NGA 111002.VAW
Death sentence (stoning) / Incommunicado detention / Fair trial

The International Secretariat of OMCT has received new information concerning the following situation in Nigeria.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is deeply concerned by the sentencing to death by stoning of 32 year-old Fatima Usman and 35 year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, in Nigeria.

According to information received from reliable sources, on 9 October 2002, a Sharia court in Niger State adjourned the bail hearing until 22 October for the couple, who have been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Mr. Ibrahim and Ms. Usman were not allowed to be present at either the appellate or the bail hearing and are currently being detained in a federal prison. According to the information received, the pair have yet to be informed of the guilty verdict and the death sentence, as their lawyers have not been permitted to have contact with them.

Ms. Usman and Mr. Ibrahim were initially found guilty of adultery and sentenced by a Sharia Court of lower instance to a fine of N15,000 and to imprisonment for a period of 5 years. This sentence was later appealed by the prosecution and the appeal was upheld by a judge on the grounds that the initial sentence was based on the “old law” and that the appropriate penalty for adultery under the Sharia Penal Code is death by stoning.

Fatima Usman has a two and a half year-old daughter allegedly fathered by Ahmed Ibrahim and, according to the information received, she is currently also eight months pregnant with another child, the father of whom is thought to be her former husband from whom she is now divorced. Lawyers for Ms. Usman have expressed grave concerns for her physical and mental health.

OMCT is deeply concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Fatima Usman and Ahmed Ibrahim and unreservedly condemns the use of corporal punishment, which clearly violates international human rights standards that prohibit the use of torture. OMCT would like to recall that the Government of Nigeria is a State Party to international human rights instruments which prohibit and punish torture including; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In addition, Nigeria is a Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which prohibits violence and other forms of discrimination against women.

OMCT is particularly concerned by the fact that this latest sentence appears to form part of a series of similar verdicts being handed down by Sharia courts in Northern Nigeria. The majority of sentences to stoning to death for adultery have been handed down against women, as pregnancy is generally used as irrefutable “evidence” of adultery and women are regarded as being less credible witnesses than men. The fact that most of the defendants in these cases have either not been allowed to be present at their trials or have not had adequate legal representation is also of great concern to OMCT.

Action requested

Please write to the Nigerian authorities urging them to:

i. guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Fatima Usman and Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim and their families;

ii. ensure that Ms. Usman and Mr. Ibrahim are permitted to have contact with their legal representatives and to be informed of the sentence that has been handed down against them as well as of the procedure for appealing this sentence;

ii. take all necessary measures to secure respect for the rule of law in Nigeria which includes respect for the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, such as the practice of corporal punishment;

iii. guarantee women their human rights, including their right to be free from discrimination and their right to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment;

iv. ensure in all circumstances the full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international standards.


· His Exellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Republic, The Presidency, Federal Secretariat Phase II, Shehu Shagari Way,Abuja; Fax: 234 9 523 21 36 (press office), Email:

· Alhaji Sule Lamido, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maputo Street , Zone 3 Wuse District, Abuja, Nigeria ; Fax: 234 9 523 02 08.

· Kanu Godwin Agabi, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, New Federal Secretariat complex, Shehu Shagari Way, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria; Fax: 234 9 523 52 08.

· Abdulkadir Kure (PDP), State Governor, State House, 35000 Minna, Niger State, Nigeria.

If you are having problems getting through to the above addresses, please use:

· S.E.M Pius Ikpefuan Ayewoh, Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue Richard Wagner 1, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, fax: 0041 22 7341053, e-mail:

Please also write to the Embassy of Nigeria in your respective countries.

Geneva, October 11th, 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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