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Ademola Bello

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Who Will Save Amputees of Sharia Law in Nigeria?

Posted: 04/11/10 02:12 PM ET

"Muslims, had no right under the law to question or review any judgment given by the Sharia Court as doing so would be tantamount to questioning the laws of Allah." ( Tuesday, March 30, 2010) ~ Mallam Ibrahim Lawal, Sharia Court Judge, Kaduna Nigeria.


A Sharia Court Judge called Mallam Ibrahim Lawal, in Magajin Gari, Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria on March 30, this year gave a three-minute judgment in which he pronounced his rulings in favor of the radical group known as the Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria which wanted to put a stop to the online debate through social networking sites started by the advocacy group known as the Civil Rights Congress about the unjust amputation of a poor man's limb through Sharia law.

What sparked off this furor of recent online debate was a barbaric and inhuman amputation of the limb of a man called Buba Jangebe in the year 2000 after being found guilty of stealing a cow.

Another man Lawal Isa, also had his right hand cut off, after being convicted of stealing three bicycles. And presently, there are several dozens of people in jail awaiting amputation across Northern Nigerian States of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Kaduna, Borno, Gombe among others. What is also disturbing about this Sharia theft punishments, is that the victims upon being accused gets ostracized by their relatives and society, and the only way for them to get re-integrated back into the community is to accept amputation as a form of atonements for their sinful way that will transformed them from a thief into a religious person. Sadly, most of these Sharia law amputees in Nigeria became abandoned and distraught they eventually became beggars and destitute on the streets. Equally, disturbing, is that it is Medical Doctors who should be saving lives that carried out these amputations. To them, nothing is unethical and inhuman. Why can't Nigeria Medical Association expel or sanction their members who amputated people limbs for Sharia law offences? Alas! Nigeria Medical Association have let the country down because they failed to act against these barbaric practices when they are needed most.

It is disgusting that Sharia court judge Ibrahim Lawal not only banned the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to campaign against the amputation of Mr. Jangebe by the civil rights congress. He also ordered the immediate suspension of all debates on the amputation by the public. Acccording to him Muslims, had no right under the law to question or review any judgment given by the Sharia Court as doing so would be tantamount to questioning the laws of Allah.

As someone who was born a Muslim and had lived in Northern Nigeria, I find this ruling to be egregiously unjust, mean spirited, crude, troubling and dangerous to the corporate existence and unity of Nigeria as a nation because the autocratic judge wanted to silences freedom of expression and stifled activism. He also wanted to use his bench power through Sharia court to propagate Jihad, as I do believe non Muslims like Christians could fall into his trap.

Similarly, he is sending a strong messages to dissent Nigerian Muslims that will include this writer that punishments awaits us if we dare critique Sharia law because we will be treated as infidels. I wondered why a Sharia court judge like Mallam Ibrahim Lawal did not think of the far reaching consequence or the impact his rulings could have on the fragile country particularly in the wake of recent sectarian religious violence that engulfed the central city of Jos in which more than five hundred people including children and nursing mothers lost their souls.

Moreover, this type of ruling could embolden the extremists Islamic sect like Boko Haram, and further radicalized the unregulated Madrassas in Northern Nigeria where incendiary sermons against the Jews and West are quite popular. In addition to this, the ruling will also serve as a recruiting tool for terrorists organization like Al-Qaeda to brainwashed another young Nigerian Muslim from Northern part of the country to carry out a terrorists act just like Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab( The terror suspect who was accused of trying to bring down Detroit bound US jet airliner on Christmas Day).

It is an established fact that Nigerian government under the Presidency of Alhaji Shehu Musa Yar'Adua has elevated the profile of the President of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria, Alhaji Ibrahim Datti Ahmed like that of a person with a cabinet level position. And it was not surprising, that he was one of the handpicked influential Muslim clerics from the North that the ailing leader invited last week to Aso Rock (Nigeria's seat of power to offer him prayers for quick recovery). It is unfortunate, that Mr. Yar' Adua who ought to exercise great restraint in getting so closer to any religious organization with an agenda because of his position as the President of all Nigerians irrespective of their faith is the patron of the Izala sects a fundamentalist group with stronghold in Katsina State that canvassed for the application of Sharia criminal code across the country. The group also wanted a return to caliphate in which Nigeria would be ruled like an Islamic empire under a Sultan or Emir. The Izala sects and the Supreme Council of Sharia have one goal in common, they are both designed to promote the adoption of Sharia law in other Nigerian States.

It is certainly clear that the acting President Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, is very weak politically to challenge the ruling of Sharia court judge Mallam Ibrahim Lawal as unconstitutional or to prevent future punishments and amputations of people's limb through Sharia law.

Aside from political corruption, and other most daunting problematic challenges Nigeria faces as a nation is how to curb the clout and philosophy of a non reformists Salafiyya movement better known as the Wahhabi sect on the country's political, economy, social and religious fabrics. The sect with funding from Saudi Arabia, and Libya could plung the country into further bloodshed of religious chaos; it has already weakened the moderates traditional Sunni groups in Nigeria like Qadriyya, Tijani, and Ahamadiyya . The Wahhabi, Salafi cult was imported into the country from Saudi Arabia shortly after Nigeria became a member of the Organization of Islamic Conference in the 1980s.

Nigeria's Federal government must be willing to challenge the adoption of the Sharia law criminal code by core Northern Nigerian States. And also try and regulate Madrassas. Unless we confront this reality that evil perhaps exists in our backyard there could be more like Umar Farouk Abdul-Mutallab out there on the streets of Kaduna and Kano that are willing to be a recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda future operations. More than ten thousands people have died as result of sectarian religious violence following the adoption of Sharia law criminal code by Zamfara State in October 1999. The perpetrators of this crime are not all Muslims, there are Christians among them. No one has been punished under the law for killing people in the name of God or religion in Nigeria. Why? It is because the country is being ruled by rudderless and lawless government.