From the Christian Post, with thanks to Nicolei:
Two women sentenced to death by a court in northern Nigeria are seeking to appeal the sentences, a human rights group said Friday. The women, sentenced to death by stoning for allegedly committing adultery, will see their appeals heard on Oct. 25 and Nov. 3 respectively.
Nigeria, a federation of somewhat autonomous states, has 36 states of which 12 predominantly Muslim states have declared Sharia law since 2000.
Under the controversial Islamic Shariah criminal codes, sex outside wedlock is considered adultery if one of the partners is or has ever been married. If neither partner was ever married, then sex outside wedlock is condemned as “fornication,” a crime punishable by whipping.
The two recent sentences, passed down in Nigeria’s Bauchi state in September and early October, are the first of their kind in over a year in the predominantly Muslim north.
In the most recent case, Hajara Ibrahim from Bauchi state, central eastern Nigeria, was sentenced Oct. 5, confessing to have had a physical relationship with a man by the name of Dauda Sani, whom she claims had promised to marry her.
Sani, however, denied the claim and since Ibrahim, 18, did not have four male witnesses to support her contentions, he was acquitted due to lack of evidence.
The idea that there must be four male witnesses goes back to the Qur’an — to an incident in Muhammad’s life when his favorite wife, Aisha, was accused of adultery. She was exonerated after Muhammad claimed that Allah had revealed to him the requirement for four witnesses. Because of its roots in Muhammad’s example, the four witnesses requirement, as unfair as it is particularly to women like Ibrahim, is difficult, if not impossible, to overturn.