Maimuna Abdulmumini was the child bride who was sentenced to death for the murder of her husband. Married at thirteen, she had been married for five months when her husband perished in a suspected arson attack believed to have been perpetuated by her. She was arrested after the attack but waited for two years before any charges were brought against her.
During this two-year wait, she remarried and had a child. Six years after her husband was killed, she was sentenced to death for culpable homicide on the 6th of December, 2012. She spent three years in jail at the Katsina State prison.
Just as the recent case of Maryam Sanda has drawn a lot of views and sympathy, so did Maimuna’s case draw a lot of attention. The death sentence pronounced on Maimuna attracted lawyers from Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France- an organization which works with a network of pro-bono lawyers to fight injustice across the world. They got to work and ensured that justice be obtained for a minor who was sentenced to death, which contradicts the international standard human right law that says a minor below the age of eighteen cannot be sentenced to death.
According to an article written by ThisDay newspaper on September 13, 2016, “It would be recalled that in a bid to enforce Maimuna’s rights and secure her release, Avocats Sans Frontières France had filed and won a case at the ECOWAS Community Court of justice on her behalf. The ECOWAS Court had in its final judgment delivered on June 10, 2014 in suit no: ECW/CCJ/APP/15/13 declared that the death sentence passed on Maimuna for an offence, she committed as a minor amounted to an infringement of her right to life. The Court awarded N5m damages to be paid to her by the Nigerian Government as compensation for the said infringement and N1m as costs. More than two years after the delivery of that landmark judgment, the Nigerian Government is yet to comply with the decision of the ECOWAS Court. This case was handled on the platform of the SAVING LIVES (SALI) project of ASF France (a project against the death penalty).”
The death sentence passed on Maimuna Abdulmumini was set aside by the Court of Appeal and it ordered that she be held at the pleasure of the governor.
Angela Uwandu, the Head of Office of Avocats Sans Frontieres France reacted to the release of Maimuna saying, “Although the road to Justice for Maimuna, a victim of early forced marriage, has been long and excruciating, justice has been served nonetheless. We are extremely glad that Maimuna has now been reunited with her family.”
The plight of Maimuna is one of so many victims who do not have someone to speak for them. It also exposes how weak the law is when it comes to protecting the interest of minors in Nigeria. Her case reminds us of Wasila Umar who was also a child bride accused of killing her husband in 2014 in Kano.