Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu (born 1967) is a Nigerian woman condemned to death for adultery in 2002. She gave birth to a child as a single woman in Sokoto, a Nigerian state under Sharia law. She was sentenced to be stoned, but was acquitted of all charges in March 2002 after a retrial.
Hussaini was sentenced to death by stoning in October 2001 for allegedly having a child with a married neighbour. She had the child after her divorce. Hussaini claimed that she was the victim of repeated rape by a man, whom the Sharia court found not guilty due to lack of evidence. During the trial, Hussaini had no legal representation and was not informed of her legal rights. The Sokoto court dismissed her testimony and convicted her on 12 October 2001.
The verdict was widely condemned and international campaigns and petitions to release her were launched. Halima Abdullahi, director of Help Eliminate Loneliness and Poverty (HELP), a non-governmental organisation, also criticized the verdict. In a statement she said the verdict was a “thorough embarrassment” to the majority of Nigerian Muslims. The group argued that the judgment was wrong because Safiya was accused of adultery instead of fornication, since she was a divorcee. Also, the four witnesses stipulated by the Islamic law were not available at the trial. Halima claimed that the verdict was passed because Safiya came from an underprivileged class. While describing the verdict as “gender discrimination of the highest order,” the group called on Governor Attahiru Bafarawa to intervene to save Safiya’s life.
Hussaini appealed, her lawyers arguing that Hussaini’s former husband was the father of her one-year-old daughter Adama and that the village woman had made her original statement under duress.
Further they argued that the alleged act of adultery had taken place before sharia law was implemented in the state. Full Sharia law was established in Sokoto in June 2000, a month after baby Adama was conceived. She was defended by Nigerian human rights lawyer Hauwa Ibrahim.
Hussaini won her appeal on March 25, 2002 and the case was dismissed. The Appeal Court in Sokoto found that the death sentence, originally handed down by an Islamic Sharia court in October, had been baseless. The court ruled that the adultery provisions of Sokoto’s Sharia law could not be used against Safiya, as the alleged adultery must have taken place before the introduction of Sharia law in Sokoto.
Hussaini’s plight was later recorded in the book, Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudu: I, Safiya (2004).