LAGOS, Jan 22 (AFP) - In a case that raised international concerns about human rights in Nigeria, a teenage mother found guilty by an Islamic court of pre-marital sex has been flogged 100 times, officials and witnesses said Monday.
Bariya Ibrahim Magazu, found guilty in September of the Islamic offence of "zina" or pre-marital sex, was taken early Friday to the high court in Tsafe and caned 100 times in front of a crowd of dozens of her neighbours, the deputy governor of Zamfara State told AFP.
Speaking by telephone from the state capital Gusau, Mahmoud Shinkafi said that following her beating, administered in line with Islamic law, the girl was able to walk away, and was relieved her ordeal was now over with.
"Immediately after the punishment she thanked Allah for having the punishment... She thanked Allah and now she is free," he said.
"She walked home and when she got to her village she was very happy," he added.
Shinkafi said that the main punishment was the disgrace of her beating.
"The disgrace in public is what deters people," he said.
Now, as far as the authorities are concerned, the affair is over.
"She will never be disgraced again. She has her whole dignity. No-one will disgrace her again... It is quite over," he said.
The beating was carried out with no pre-arranged publicity, apparently to prevent protests, a local reporter said.
The reporter said he had spoken to family members who said she was able to walk away but gave no further details. The reporter was not allowed to see the girl.
A human rights activist spoke to a witness who said the beating was carried out with Bariya fully clothed and said she was crying throughout.
Aisha Imam, a Muslim and the head of a women's rights group which campaigned on Magazu's behalf, told AFP she was shocked by the news and said the court had violated an agreement not to beat a girl who was still breastfeeding her child.
"It's a shock. It's a horrible thing to happen to Bariya," she said.
"We are suprised and shocked, especially after the statement that had been made about understanding her need to breastfeed and the child's right to be breastfed," she said.
"We are still trying to confirm the cicumstances but the fact that the sentence has been carried out is not going to stop an appeal and protests," she added.
The sentencing of the teenage girl -- originally to 180 lashes -- last year led to protests from the human rights groups, Christian organisations and the Canadian government.
She said she had been coerced into sex by three men and gave her age to lawyers as 13 or 14.
Last week, the Islamic High Court in Zamfara, reduced her original sentence from 180 to 100 lashes and revoked a previously announced punishment date of January 27 without setting a new date.
The Zamfara State Sharia High Court's chief registrar, Mohammed Tukur Anka, rejected criticism.
"We don't care about the criticism. We have done it the right way," he said, adding he did not believe it would have any effect on the breastfeeding. "She'll continue feeding the child," he said.