Nigerian girl to be lashed 180 times

The governor of the Nigerian state that sentenced a 17-year-old girl to 180 lashes for engaging in premarital sex insisted yesterday that the punishment will be carried out.

Gov. Ahmed Sani of Zamfara State said he was not being coerced by the federal government to revoke the sentence.

"We are under no pressure from anyone. The law is the law, and people respect that," Mr. Sani said. "Even if the federal government issues an instruction, it would have no reason to do so. "We will go ahead and carry out the punishment," he added.

The unmarried girl, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, was sentenced in September by an Islamic court in Tsafe in Zamfara State to be lashed 180 times after she was discovered to be pregnant.

Asked who the father was, the girl named three middle-aged men from her village who she said had pressured her into engaging in sex.

The judge of the local Islamic court, Idris Usman Gusau, ruled that under the terms of Islamic law introduced in Zamfara last year, she had not proven her claims against the three men.

He sentenced her to 80 lashes for premarital sex and 100 for making unproven claims against the men. The lashes will be administered by police or Islamic vigilante members some 40 days after the birth of her daughter, which took place last week.

Several human rights groups, including Amnesty International, and governments, including Canada, have expressed concern.

But in an interview with journalists last weekend, President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, said he will not intervene.

Mr. Obasanjo has been criticized by many Christian leaders who see him as overcautious in his reaction to Islamic punishments being introduced by leaders of the mainly Muslim north.

The case is the most high profile so far in a series of punishments carried out since nine northern Nigerian states voted last year to introduce strict Islamic law.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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