Fourteen-year-old Wasila Tasi’u (pictured) will likely face the death penalty if she is convicted of murdering her husband with rat poison earlier this year, according to the Guardian.
In April, Face2Face Africa reported on the then-published name of Wasilu Umar who allegedly put rat poison in her new husband, Umaru Sani‘s, pot of rice because she was made to marry someone she did not love.
In order to celebrate his wedding to Umar last week, 35-year-old Sani reportedly invited about 12 of his friends to his village of Ungwar Yansoro over the weekend. Umar reportedly prepared a pot of rice with rat poison that was served to the guests, after purchasing the poison from a village market.
Sani and a guest died the same day, while two other guests reportedly died later on at the hospital. According to the BBC, 10 others were also taken to the hospital.
Assistant Superintendent Musa Magaji Majia says that Umar confessed to poisoning her groom, saying, ‘The suspect confessed to committing the crime and said she did it because she was forced to marry a man she did not love.’”
Almost seven months later, lead prosecutor Lamido Abba Soron-Dinki says that if Tasi’u is found guilty, her charge may be “punishable with death,” the maximum penalty.
When Tasi’u recently entered the courtroom to state whether she is guilty of the charges against her, her parents, who have reportedly condemned their daughter’s act, were present, making the meeting their first since the incident occurred.
Tasi’u was reportedly asked if she understood the charges, which were translated in Hausa, but she did not respond.
The courtroom adjourned to ensure that Tasi’u understand the charges.
The case was adjourned for 30 minutes so the charges could be better explained to the defendant, but when the alleged offences were read again Tasi’u stayed silent, turned her head to the wall and broke down in tears.
‘The court records [that] she pleads not guilty,’ Judge Mohammed Yahaya said, apparently regarding her silence as equal to a denial of the charges, and adjourned the case until 26 November.
While most in southern Nigeria are calling for Tasi’u to be seen as a victim and released, many in the North believe that she should be held accountable for her alleged crime because they observe Islamic law that 14 years old is an appropriate age to marry and both Tasi’u and Sani “followed the traditional system of courtship.”
Therefore, defense lawyer Hussaina Aliyu is reportedly arguing instead that due to Tasi’u’s age, she cannot be legally charged with murder in the high court but needs to be transferred to the juvenile system.