Lawyers without Borders Move to Save Nursing Mother from Death Row

The Avocats Sans Frontières France (ASFF), also known as Lawyers without Borders, has moved to save a 20-year-old nursing mother, Maimuna Abdulmumini, from being executed for allegedly killing her first husband seven years ago.

A Katsina State High Court had on December 6, 2012, sentenced Abdulmumini to death by hanging for allegedly setting her husband ablaze, causing his death just five months after her marriage at the tender age of 13.

ASSF, through its Saving Lives project (SALI) in a suit filed before the ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja, prayed the court to declare that the death sentence violates the provisions of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, as the alleged crime was committed when she was a minor.

ASSF is also asking the court to quash the death sentence and consequently release Abdulmumini, until such a time when she will have access to fair proceedings as guaranteed by international standards.

According to the court process exclusively obtained by THISDAY in Abuja, the plaintiff is also praying the court to declare that the death penalty violates Abdulmumini’s right to be represented in court and her right to due process as guaranteed by article 7 of the African Charter.

According to an affidavit deposed to by the plaintiff, the lawyer who represented her in the matter neither filed a final address nor made any mitigation plea on her behalf.
Alternatively, ASSF wants the court to commute Abudulmumini’s death penalty to another sentence which will take care of the case’s peculiarity.

The Federal Government of Nigeria, Kastina State government and the Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) were named as defendants in the suit.

SALI argued that the detention of a mother with her child on death row is a violation of the right to dignity as provided under Article 5 of the African Charter.

Abdulmumini has since been admitted at the Katsina Central Prisons where she is nursing her 18-month-old baby.

“The plaintiff avers that she remarried two years after the death of her first husband and gave birth to a baby girl, who is now 18 months old. She is still nursing her. That she received legal advice on February 25, 2009, more than two years after her release on bail.

“She was charged for culpable homicide on the person of her previous husband, pursuant to Article 221 of the Nigerian Penal Code. That the Katsina State assigned her a counsel, who did not file a final address nor made any mitigation plea on her behalf.

“That as a result of this negligence, the judge sentenced her to death by hanging. That she was subsequently admitted in Katsina Central Prisons, where she remains today.
“She is imprisoned in a cell with six other inmates and is nursing her baby girl inside the prison,” Sabi stated.

Abdulmumini was first arrested on March 28, 2006, for being suspected of setting her husband on fire and causing his death.

At the time, she was 13 years old and had already been married for five months. She was remanded in Katsina Children Remand Home, where she spent about six months, until completion of the police investigation and consequently released on bail.

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