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No, Nigerian actor Sadau not arrested or sentenced to death for backless dress photo

The hashtag #FreeRahama started circulating on Twitter in early November 2020, with a rumour that Nigerian actor Rahama Sadau had been arrested – some even saying sentenced to death – under Kaduna state’s sharia law for tweeting a photo of herself wearing a backless dress.

“It's sad that a Sharia Court in Kaduna is about to sentence Rahama Sadau to DEATH all because of this picture where she showed her back,” one tweet read. “Please let's get #FreeRahama trending so international media can lend their voices.”

Another said: “So Rahama Sadau is expected to appear before a sharia court in Kaduna, where her fate will be decided. It's sad we have Nations trapped in this British experiment called Nigeria.”

Sadau, a Muslim, has deleted her tweet and apologised for the photo.

Kaduna is in the country’s northwestern zone and one of 12 Nigerian states that adopted criminal law aspects of the sharia legal system in 2000.

Sharia law is specific about women’s clothing. According to the Egypt-based Dar al-Ifta al Masrriyah Foundation, legal attire for Muslim women must be modest. It must not be transparent or show any part of the woman’s body, except for her hands and face. 

But has Sadau been arrested, even sentenced to death, for wearing a dress that revealed her back?

‘Fake and unfounded stories’

The rumour caused enough of a national fuss that Bashir Ahmad, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s personal assistant on new media, took to Twitter on 7 November to dismiss it.

He tweeted: “When you come across the letter read it carefully, nowhere the Police invited Rahama Sadau or anybody over the ‘controversial pictures’, as reported by many of our media outlets. Clear MISLEADING headlines.”

Three days later, Sadau herself responded.

“I have received many messages that I have been arrested and sentenced to jail earlier today,” she tweeted on 10 November. “I have no idea where the news emanated from. I'm therefore calling on people to stop spreading FAKE and unfounded stories.”

She added: “I haven’t received any police invitation or court trial. I'm reiterating this to well wishers that I’m SAFE and FINE and I have never received any legal trial for whatever reason. To those trying to bank on this issue to create an unrest, Please give it a rest..!!!”

Nigerian actor Rahama Sadau has not been arrested or sentenced to death for wearing a backless dress. – Kashifa Sithole

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