Minna - A Nigerian Islamic sharia court on Wednesday postponed for almost a month the appeal of a young couple who were sentenced to be stoned to death.
Officials at Niger State's sharia Appeal Court said that the chief judge, Grand Khadi Abdumumumi Enagi, had "travelled out of town" and that the case had been put off until April 21. No explanation was given for his absence.
Fatima Usman and her former sweetheart Ahmadu Ibrahim, both now thought to be 33, were convicted of adultery in 2001 after Usman's father complained to a sharia judge that Ibrahim was not paying support for their illegitimate child.
The pair had been forewarned of the postponement and did not come to court.
Human rights lawyers say that the case is shot through with procedural errors and does not match Islamic law's, or sharia's, own strict rules of evidence. Niger state officials expect the couple to be cleared when the appeal is heard.