14 Years Old Nigeria child bride confessed to killing husband: Police
Gezawa (Nigeria) (AFP) – A packed Nigerian court heard testimony on Monday
that a 14-year-old girl admitted to killing her 35-year-old husband with
rat poison, and signed a police confession with a thumbprint because she
Wasila Tasi'u, from a poor and deeply conservative Muslim family, has been
charged with murdering her husband Umar Sani days after their marriage in
northern Kano state.
Because she did not understand English, homicide investigator Abdullahi
Adamu translated her statement from the Hausa language dominant in the
region and gave her the document to sign.
She could not write her name, so “she had to use a thumbprint,” he told
the court during his testimony on the last day of the prosecution's case.
The state's lawyers, who are seeking the death penalty, also called to the
stand Tasi'u's “co-wife”, a term referring to the woman — identified as
Ramatu — whom the deceased farmer had married previously in a region
where polygamy is widespread.
Ramatu said she got along well with Tasi'u and that the two had prepared
the food together on April 5, the day Sani died.
She testified that because it was Tasi'u's turn to share a bed with Sani,
Tasi'u was also entitled to serve him his meal.
“After putting the food in the dish I didn't see anybody put anything in
it,” Ramatu said.
She told the court she saw her husband sometime later being helped back to
the house by a neighbour, unable to walk and foaming at the mouth.
As she spoke the court was overflowing, with people peering in through the
open windows and a crowd so large it spilled out of the gallery door.
The case has sparked outrage among human rights activists who say Nigeria
should be treating Tasi'u as a victim, noting the possibility that she was
raped by the man she married.
But others in the region, including relatives of the defendant and the
deceased, have rejected the notion that Tasi'u was forced into marriage.
They have said that 14 is a common age to marry in the deeply impoverished
region and that Tasi'u chose Sani from among many suitors.
A motion by defence lawyers to have the case moved to juvenile court was
rejected, despite claims by human rights lawyers that she is too young to
stand trial for murder in a high court.
Further complicating the case is the role of sharia (Islamic law) in
northern Nigeria, which allows children to marry according to some
While sharia is technically in force in Kano, law enforcement officials
have no guidelines concerning how it should be balanced with the secular
criminal codes, creating a complex legal hybrid system.
According to Human Rights Watch, Nigeria is not known to have executed a
juvenile offender since 1997, when the country was ruled by military
dictator Sani Abacha.
The trial has been adjourned until February 16.
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