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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Sharia compromise for Kaduna
cars burnt in Kaduna's Sharia clashes
Much of Kaduna was destroyed after clashes over Sharia
Police in Nigeria's northern Kaduna State have warned against any violence after the authorities decided not to adopt full sharia or Islamic law.

The state shall not profess any particular religion

State Governor Mohammed Ahmed Makarfi
Tensions in the state have been high, following the deaths of at least 1,000 people in bloody riots in February and May involving Christians and Muslims over plans to introduce Sharia.

Kaduna Police Commissioner Mohammed Shehu said his force would deal with "those who hide under the cloak of religion to incite their followers" to violence.

"The police once again find it expedient to remind and warn mischief-makers against any attempt to cause a breach of the peace in any part of the state under whatever guise," he said.


In a broadcast on state television and radio on Wednesday evening, State Governor Mohammed Ahmed Makarfi said he was not applying full Sharia because of the multi-faith nature of Kaduna.

victims of the Kaduna Sharia clashes
Many southern Christians fled Kaduna
Instead Sharia courts would be introduced in the predominantly Muslim areas of the state and customary courts for predominantly non-Muslim area .

A prominent proponent of Sharia in the state, Hadi Auwal, expressed satisfaction with the new arrangement, under which Muslims can choose to be tried under sharia, while non-Muslims can only be tried in the customary courts.

The leader of the state's Christian Association of Nigeria, Archbishop Benjamin Audu Achigili, told the BBC Hausa Service that the arrangement was fair to Christians, but they would need to look at it more carefully and issue a formal response.

Islamic courts will cover religious and family matters and local governments would only be allowed to restrict sales of alcohol in Muslim-majority areas, it was reported.

"The state shall not profess any particular religion," the governor said.

A raft of states across northern Nigeria have introduced Sharia this year, despite condemnation from President Olusegun Obasanjo that their actions are unconstitutional.

Southern agreement

Meanwhile, governors from Nigeria's southern states have agreed on a number of measures aimed at redefining their relationship to the federal government.

A statement issued after a meeting in the commercial capital, Lagos, said the governors agreed to review the formula for sharing national resources, including crude oil produced in the southeast.

Decentralisation of control over the police force was also among the issues the governors agreed to review.

The governors said they reached a consensus over the controversial introduction of the Islamic sharia in several northern states, but gave no further details.

A BBC correspondent in Nigeria says this is the first time the southern governors have created a joint platform to further their political and economic objectives.

He says Nigeria's political arena is now set for a direct contest between the south and the north, whose governors hold regular meetings to coordinate their policies.

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See also:

10 Aug 00 | Africa
Sharia beating for motorcyclists
21 Jun 00 | Africa
Analysis: Sharia takes hold
25 May 00 | Africa
Nigeria's year of turmoil
11 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigeria's bishops confront Sharia
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