Nigeria and Islamic Law: Sharia

June 17-23, Economist / 
Agence France Press -International Herald Tribune, 22, June, 2000.

The governor of Kano, northern NIGERIA's largest city, said that Islamic law, or sharia, would come into effect at the beginning of Ramadan in early December. The introduction of sharia has led to religious violence in other Nigerian cities, and many of Kano's non-Muslim residents began leaving the city.

Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano state declared Islamic law early Wednesday 21 June, in front of a crowd estimated to be one million, packed into the Eid Stadium . This decision is bound to lead to a constitutional crisis, and perhaps even civil war. President Olusegun Obasanjo has repeatedly appealed for the Islamic code not to be applied.

The governor said he had been advised by the chief imam on Kano state, Sheikh Isa Waziri that the best date for applying the Sharia would be the first day of the Islamic Holy month of Ramadan, due this year in early December.

In the meantime, Muslim legislators are busy drawing up the strict Islamic code which will set out the legal provisions and punishments .Islamic courts will also be established and an Islamic judiciary trained.

Two people were crushed to death in the crowd, many fainted, but the crowd nonetheless celebrated the declaration with great cries of Allah akbar, God is Great.

However the state’s Christian minority, who live in the ghetto of Sabon Gari, are far from happy at this decision, fearing that Muslim youths will use the occasion to attack them . The governor claimed that Islam was a religion of tolerance and that any acts against the Christians would be punished .However the governor did emphasize that the Sharia would be enforced in every single area of the state: hotels, the army, and even where Christians predominated . This decision is likely to push two other states to declare Sharia Law, those of Katsina and Kaduna.