Child bride in murder trial over death of husband, three others

courtA court in Kano on Monday postponed the murder trial of a 14-year-old girl accused of poisoning the 35-year-old man she was forced to marry, a case that has thrown the spotlight on the influence of Islamic law in the country.

Wasila Tasi’u has also been charged with the murder of three others who allegedly ate the food laced with rat poison that she prepared and served in April this year, a week after her marriage to Umaru Sani.

“Wasila was to appear today,” but the case has been postponed indefinitely because of a backlog caused by a judicial staff strike, said Salisu Yakubu, registrar at the High Court in town of Gezawa.

According to the Police, Tasi’u confessed to poisoning Sani and his guests at the wedding party in the village of Unguwar Yansoro Village, several kilometres away from Kano.

“She did it because she was forced by her parents to marry a man she did not love,” Kano State Police spokesman, Musa Magaji Majia, said.

Her lawyer, Hussaina Aliyu, rejects claims that her client made a legally valid confession. She said Tasi’u was questioned by police without a parent or lawyer present and that comments she may have made are inadmissible in court.

Aliyu, who works with the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), has sought to have the case transferred to a juvenile court, which was rejected by judicial officials in Kano.

“All we are saying is do justice to her. Treat the case as it is. Treat her as a child,” Aliyu said.

With Nigeria’s federal and secular laws also applying, the issue creates a confusing hybrid legal system where sharia police try to work with government authorities to enforce criminal justice.