I. Legal Framework
Nigerian evidence Act
The Nigerian Evidence Act protects the confidentiality of communication during marriage. It provides that no husband or wife shall be compelled to disclose any communication made to him or her during marriage by his or her spouse; nor shall he or she be permitted to disclose any such communication unless the person who made it, or that person's representative, consents, except in suits between married persons or proceedings in which one married person is prosecuted for certain specified offenses.1
The operation of Sharia Law2 in 12 northern Nigerian states3 also raises issues of privacy. Of particular concern is a provision in several states for the punishment of adultery by stoning to death.4 While no one has been stoned for adultery under the Sharia laws, several accused Nigerian women have had to undergo judicial proceedings in which, by necessity, the consideration of the details of their sexual lives have been the basis for both their prosecution and defense.5 Criminalization of zina, or sexually related offenses, is used to deprive both men and women of their rights to privacy and to freedom of expression and association.6 Since 2000, at least 10 individuals have been sentenced to death and dozens have been sentenced to amputation or flogging.7 While Sharia courts continue to issue death sentences, no sentence has been implemented since 2002.8 The number of sentences issued by Sharia courts has decreased, and authorities seem to be reluctant to carry out sentences.9 In 2004, appellate courts overturned three death sentences.10 In early 2006, the Nigerian government began releasing or speeding up the trials of up to 25,000 inmates in an effort to reduce prison populations. The releases affect men and women detained under the Sharia and criminal penal systems.11
- 1. Evidence Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, Chap 164.
- 2. The Sharia is a body of Islamic law that governs not only aspects of religious faith, but also offers dictates for the conduct of everyday secular activities.
- 3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1893589.stm
- 4. Id.
- 5. Id.
- 6. http://web.amnesty.org/report2005/nga-summary-eng
- 7. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/09/21/nigeri9364.htm
- 8. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/01/13/nigeri9883.htm
- 9. Id.
- 10. Amnesty International, Report 2005, Nigeria, supra.
- 11. http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGAFR440022006