On June 28, 2022, a Shariah Court in Ningi, Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi State convicted and sentenced three men –Mallam Haruna (70 years old), Abdullahi Abubakar Beti (30 years old) and Kamilu Ya’u (20 years old) – to death by stoning for homosexuality.
The Shariah judge, Munka’ilu Sabo-Ningi, said the men violated Section 134 of the Bauchi State Penal Law of 2001 as well as the provisions of Fiquhussunah Jizu’i No.2 at page 362. In these interviews with ARMSTRONG BAKAM, relatives of the convicts speak about the incident
What is your name and relationship with 70-year-old Mallam Haruna, who was sentenced to death by stoning for homosexuality?
My name is Mallam Ibrahim Abba. I am a resident of Gwada. I have an Islamiyya School here. Mallam Haruna is like my disciple and also a friend.
Where was he arrested and by who?
I don’t know exactly where he was arrested but I know that some people, including a vigilante, arrested him and brought him to the Mai Angwa’s (village heads’s) house and from there, they took him away to Ningi on a motorcycle.
Were you able to speak with him before the Shariah court sentenced him to death by stoning?
No, I couldn’t. I have been very bitter since the news broke. As the proprietor of the school, I just saw that they took him away and nobody came to tell me what exactly happened.
Were you in the court on the judgment day when the court ordered that he should be stoned to death?
No, I didn’t go to any of the court sittings.
Seeing how close we were and how we’ve lived, the pain, the sadness and the bitterness of the whole thing couldn’t allow me go there.
When you heard about the judgment how exactly did you feel?
How else would I feel since he’s like a brother to me? Of course, I didn’t feel happy about it. When I heard about the judgment, my body became very cold since there was nothing I could do to help him in that situation.
Is it common for the Shariah court to order people to be stoned to death in your community or was your friend’s case a rare incident?
It is not even just about my community; I have not heard of such a judgment anywhere in Nigeria, so I see it as a rare case.
Many people think the judgment was too harsh. Do you agree with them?
Well, people may say that but since it was pronounced by people above us and the court, we can’t say anything (otherwise).
So, you don’t think that sentencing someone to death by stoning is a harsh judgment?
Of course, it is, since it is something we have never heard about before.
Do you know the two other persons sentenced to death alongside your friend? What is the relationship between your friend and them?
Yes, I will say I know them since one of them is a son to my friend, Ya’u. Their relationship is that they know one another in this village since Mallam Haruna came to stay here.
Where did Mallam Haruna come from?
Originally, he is not from this village; he migrated to this place from Kano State and he’s been here for upwards of 25 years and I have known him for all these years. In fact, I was one of the first people he met when he came to this village from Kano and I offered him a place to stay.
What did he tell you brought him to your village?
He came in search of greener pastures as it is customary for our people here in the North. People leave their places and migrate to other places to seek better life. If they find the new place pleasing and accommodating, then they settle there.
Did you ever suspect that he was a homosexual?
I’ve stayed with him for all these years without any problem and honestly, I can’t say whether he’s guilty or not. Only God knows a man’s heart.
What can you say about the kind of person he is?
Well, for his character, he has been a nice man and a peace-loving person; we have not heard of any negative thing about him except for this incident. He has lived in peace with everyone in this place for all these years.
Is he married?
When he was in his village back then in Kano, he was married and had a son. It was after he separated from his wife that he came here. Since then, he hasn’t had any wife here and he’s been living all alone; he’s just been here farming.
Have you been able to see him after the judgment?
No, I haven’t seen him because I don’t even know where he is.
From what you know about him, were you surprised to learn that he pleaded guilty to being a homosexual?
Well, I wouldn’t know because since he was arrested, I have not discussed the matter with anyone or gone to the court or be involved in this matter because I have been saddened by the whole issue.
Why was he not represented by any lawyer in court?
Well, as you can see, we are only rural and poor people, we don’t know anything about hiring a lawyer or not and that was why no lawyer represented him. We don’t even know where to start from, so we’ve just been looking as the whole thing unfolds. Even if we knew, how could we possibly hire a lawyer when we are poor people? We won’t be able to afford the services of a lawyer.
The judge said there was a 30-day window to appeal the judgment. Do you plan doing that?
I am not even aware of that. I am just hearing this from you (laughs). I don’t know anything about court and its proceedings.
So, now that you’ve learnt about it, what would you do?
One effort I made since the incident happened was that I called his siblings and told them about it, but they are yet to either come or respond to my call. You see, I’ve informed his family and none of them has either come here or reached out to me, this is over three weeks now, what step can I possibly take? I am handicapped by their not responding. If they had responded, maybe we would have thought of pursuing his rights to see if he could either be freed or for him to get a lighter judgment. But I learnt that someone in Ningi would appeal the judgment in order to see whether the court would be merciful and reduce the sentence for them and maybe give them life imprisonment or some years in jail. That’s all I know.
What if his family members don’t show up?
Well, I want to appeal to the authorities to see what they can do; if they can, in any way, release them, maybe God will make them change.
Is that to say that you believe that your friend is indeed a homosexual?
That is not what I am saying. I said that based on the fact that, according to what we heard, they admitted to the court that they were guilty.
My children and I will die of hunger – Convict’s wife
What is your name?
My name is Asama’u Abdullahi.
Where was your husband arrested for homosexuality and by who?
My husband was arrested somewhere in the town (Gwada). I don’t know the people who arrested him.
Who told you about his arrest?
I was at home when my neighbours came to tell me that my husband had been arrested. At that time, I was sick; I was lying down due to the sickness. There was also no food for me and my children to eat on that day. We went hungry throughout that day.
What did you do on getting the news of your husband’s arrest?
I cried profusely. The children kept crying because they were very hungry and there was no food for them to eat.
Did you go to look for your husband?
No, I didn’t go.
Because I was very sick.
Were you in the court on the judgment day when the court ordered that he should be stoned to death?
No, I wasn’t in the court.
Because I wasn’t told about it. It was some days later that I was told that he had been sentenced to death by stoning for homosexuality.
So, you have not seen or spoken with him since his arrest?
No, I haven’t because since the day he was arrested and taken away I haven’t set my eyes on him. The last time I saw him was the morning of the day of his arrest.
When you heard that he had been sentenced to death by stoning, how exactly did you feel?
When I heard about the judgment, I felt as if my heart would pop out of my chest as a result of confusion. I honestly didn’t find it easy psychologically. He left me with four children; I am not working, I don’t know how to feed and cater for them. As I speak with you right now, I don’t even have what to give them to eat. Tomorrow (Saturday) is Sallah, yet I don’t have where to get food to give my children, I don’t have new clothes to give them. They should please pity me and release my husband so he can come back to us, he’s all that we have. I have no father and nowhere to go to; I have nobody to look up to for any assistance. I don’t have anywhere to go and keep these children and that’s why the issue has been disturbing me. When you came, you saw me working on someone’s farm. I was doing that on an empty stomach. My children and I have had nothing to eat.
Did you ever suspect that your husband was a homosexual?
No. I had never heard about that except that day that he was arrested.
For how long have you been married to him?
I have been married to him for 10 years.
How old are you?
I am 20 years old.
Did you say that you have four children?
Yes, I have four children. My first child is nine years old while my last child is two years old.
What kind of a person is your husband? How will you describe him?
Well, I know him to be a hard-working man who caters for the needs of his family to the best of his ability. If he were to be here, we would not have been suffering like this, going to bed hungry and now that it’s Sallah, we have nothing to celebrate with. Honestly, I am very confused; I don’t know what to do with my life.
What does your husband do for a living?
He sells coconuts and dates in Gwada.
At the court, he pleaded guilty to being a homosexual. Were you surprised?
I seriously don’t know if he’s guilty or not since I don’t follow him to all the places he goes to, but all I am saying is that they should please release my husband.
Have you been able to see him after the judgment?
No, I haven’t been able to see him.
Do you know where he is now? Has the judgment been carried out?
I don’t know where he is currently but I honestly wish to see him. I appeal to them to release him to come back to us because we miss him. I know the judgment hasn’t been carried out and that’s why I am begging them to release him.
Is it common for the Shariah court to order people to be stoned to death in your community?
In our community, no, this is the first time I am hearing of such a case.
Now that your husband has been condemned to be stoned to death, what are your plans?
The only thing is that we will also die. Honestly, hunger will kill me and my children. See how we’ve become worn out by hunger and sickness. My third child was even sick because he kept crying for three days; he couldn’t sleep, he just kept crying all through. Every time he starts crying, I will also be moved to tears.
Two days after my husband was arrested, I kept crying along with my son to the extent that I was rushed to a pharmacy where I was examined and they told me that I was sick; I was told that I had a heart problem and this was detected alongside the sickness I had been battling before he was arrested. And these are happening when we don’t have food to eat. My last child has been crying of hunger, I honestly don’t know what to do or where to turn to. Da lalume and even the lalume is finished. These three chickens you see here are all that we have left. Those rams you see aren’t ours, someone gave my husband to keep and raise them for him.
Is there something else you wish to say?
All I want is for my husband to be released to us. They should help us, if not for anything, at least, for the sake of these four children that we have. We don’t have food to eat, they should please help us; I beg them. If they kill him, there will be more deaths.
Why did you say so?
All the five of us will also die; hunger will kill all of us. I don’t have a father, nowhere to go to, I only have a mother and she’s also very sick. She managed to come over one day; she came with nothing, no food to eat. If I had where to go to, I would have taken all my children and left but I have nowhere to go to. This is how we’ve been living in this Ruga among our neighbours with nothing, everyone is unto themselves here.
Besides, my neighbours and other villagers won’t just stop taunting and mocking me and my children. They laugh at me and ask me how I’m going to take care of my children.
My son was framed – Trader
What is your name and relationship with Kamilu Ya’u, who was sentenced to death by stoning for homosexuality alongside two others?
I am the father of Kamilu. My name is Ya’u Isa. I am 45 years old.
What do you do for a living?
I buy and sell fish here in Gwada.
Is Kamilu your first child?
No, he isn’t. He is my fifth son among the 12 children that God has blessed me with.
How old is he?
He is 20 years old.
When was Kamilu arrested for homosexuality?
Well, he was not arrested along with the two others. He was only framed by one of the two others.
How was he framed?
The two other persons were arrested by the vigilantes in the area and taken to Mai Angwa’s house. The whole area was becoming tense and they were thinking of moving them (from Mai Angwa’s house) to Ningi town. I arrived at the scene as they were putting them on a motorcycle to take them to Ningi town. On getting there I asked the people there, “What have you been waiting for that you haven’t beaten them? Beat them! Beat them!” As they put them on a motorcycle, getting ready to take them to Ningi town, I beat one of them, Abubakar-Beti, twice. Then the motorcycle moved and took them away. But on the way, after they had gone far from the village, the one I beat told the vigilantes that my son was also involved. He didn’t mention my son’s name at Mai Angwa’s house, it was while on their way and they had gone far from the village that he told the vigilantes to stop and then included my son’s name. That was when the vigilantes came back and took my son alongside with them to Ningi. Imagine! It was because I hit him twice while they were on the motorcycle that he decided to say my son was also involved. Mentioning my son’s name was an afterthought. It was just two of them that were arrested and taken to Mai Angwa’s house and while at the Mai Angwa’s house, he didn’t say my son was also a culprit.
Were you able to speak to your son after his arrest?
Yes, I was able to speak with him at Mai Angwa’s house before they were taken to prison. We greeted.
What did your son tell you when you spoke with him?
He told me he wasn’t among them; he said he was innocent of the offence he was accused of. He told me that his name wasn’t mentioned, it was later that that the boy, Beti, included his name.
But at the court, your son pleaded guilty to the offence. Do you think he was threatened to admit guilt?
Yes, at the time I spoke with him at Mai Angwa’s house, he told me that he was not involved in the issue but he later admitted guilt because of the beating they gave him at Mai Angwa’s house. Really, he was tortured, that was why he admitted being among them.
These two other persons, are they people you know in the village? Is there any relationship between your son and them?
Yes, I know them. But talking about their relationship, I honestly don’t know since they are not his siblings.
Were you in the court on the judgment day when the court ordered that he should be stoned to death along with the others?
Yes, I was at the court.
How exactly did you feel on hearing that judgment?
I felt very sad and heartbroken. I don’t agree with the judgment because my son was not investigated. I am not satisfied with the judgment given.
Do you think the judgment was too harsh?
Yes, to me, I feel it was a harsh judgment because it involves death. If it were to have been a fine that was given and I had a way, I would have paid it and secured the release of my son and if I don’t have money, I’ll just watch and see what God will do. But this one has to do with death, so, I feel it is harsh.
Is it common for the Shariah court to order people to be stoned to death in your community or was your son’s case a rare incident?
I would say it was a rare case because I can’t say the court is used to delivering such judgments. This one that concerns me is the first of such judgment I’ve heard about. I had never heard of such a judgment.
Where is your son now? Has the judgment been carried out?
I, honestly, don’t know where he is right now.
So, you haven’t seen him after the judgment?
No, I haven’t seen him.
What kind of a person is your son?
Honestly, my son has not been known to be a wayward child. He has been a calm and gentle son and nobody in the whole village will tell you that they knows him for any negative behaviour. In fact, he is almost like the breadwinner of my family since I don’t have any big business or any work I am doing. He handles most of the financial issues in our house.
What kind of work does he do for a living?
He farms and does different menial jobs.
Do you think he could possibly be a homosexual? Did he give you a cause to be suspicious?
Honestly, I have never known him to have such behaviour and I have never had any cause to have ever suspected him of being involved in such.
Is he married?
Yes, he is married with one wife and one child.
Your son and the others had no lawyer to represent them in court. Why didn’t you get a lawyer to defend him?
Where will I get the money to hire a lawyer to defend my son? I am just a poor villager who is struggling to survive. If I had money, I would have hired a lawyer but since I didn’t have the money, I had to just take it as it is. I know I could have hired a lawyer but because I didn’t have money, there was nothing I could do.
Do you plan to appeal the judgment since the judge said the convicts had 30 days grace period to appeal the judgment?
I, honestly, don’t have the money to hire a lawyer; if I had the money, I would hire one.
So, will you just sit back and watch your son stoned to death, more so that you claim that he is innocent?
I don’t have money; what else can I do? I can’t produce what I don’t have.
Have you considered approaching any human rights organisation to come to your aid?
Since I don’t have the money to hire a lawyer to appeal this judgment, I want to appeal to human rights groups in the country who can assist me in fighting for the right of my son; they should please come to my aid because I am a poor man with no one to fight for me. They should please help me so that my son will be released to us.