Nigerian Woman Avoids Stoning Death

But the fiery resistance of an uneducated 35-year-old woman from Tungar Tudu — with a lot of help from human rights groups and European Union parliamentarians — forced Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration to respond to the case last week.

In the government's first response to the implementation of Islamic law since 12 northern states introduced sharia over the past two years, Nigerian Justice Minister Kanu Agabi, a Christian, wrote to the state governors, declaring sharia unconstitutional as it contravened a constitutional prohibition on discrimination.

But several state governors have condemned the federal government's statement and have vowed to implement sharia laws in their states.

Human rights activists have also expressed concern that poor people bear the brunt of sharia's harsh punishments and some experts warn that sharia is likely to be exploited by politicians in the run-up to next year's general elections.

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