Nigeria: Amina Lawal haunts Yar’adua

The Daily Times of Nigeria
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’adua is now confronted with his past and the role he played in the sentencing of Amina Lawal Kurami to death by stoning by a Sharia Court in 2002.
Governor Yar’adua had introduced the Islamic legal system in the state under which Amina Lawal was prosecuted for alleged adultery and sentenced to death, while her counterpart, who was said to have made her pregnant, was not mentioned in the trial.
An international outcry saved the lady from being stoned to death though the governor was alleged to have given his assent to the judgment. However, Daily Times Nigeria gathered that the infamous saga is now threatening to put paid to chances of Yar’adua achieving his forced dreams as efforts are being made by the presidency to convince the international community, especially, human right groups that the governor is a changed politician.

PDP leaders, Daily Times Nigeria inquest indicate, are making frantic efforts for the American government to accept the candidature of Yar’adua as a result of the international outrage that greeted Amina’s death sentence for adultery by the Katsina Sharia Court .

Just last week, a high-powered lobby group by the Nigerian government was in the United States to do image laundering for Governor Yar’adua over the Amina saga, but could not convince as many people.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Daily Times of Nigeria, a United States-based Nigerian human rights and pro-democracy campaigner, Professor Edward Oparaoji, said the American authorities are highly skeptical about presidential candidates with Sharia linkage.

“The mood of the international community right now is not in favour of people seen to be Islamists or Sharia protagonists,” said Oparaoji, who is also the Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Mandate Party (PMP).

Speaking further, Oparaoji said, “If you remember, the decision that involved the conviction of Amina, who was sentenced to death by stoning, was a major international issue. As a result, the human rights community, e.g. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the State Department reports, all reflected very negatively on that particular incident.”

He added, “I think that is something that the international community saw as an extremely horrific act. I don’t think they have gotten away from the impression of those who were supporters of Sharia as a result.”

In Nigeria too, especially in the South, the spectre of Sharia and the gory tale of Amina are gradually being brought up by those who are opposed to Yar’adua as possible campaign issue.

December 30 – 31, 2006
The Daily Times of Nigeria , Weekend