BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"One senior government official accused the police in Niger State of not taking the new alcohol laws seriously."
 real 28k

Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 14:53 GMT
Nigeria: Deaths over drink

There have been clashes in central Nigeria after officials tried to enforce new Islamic laws banning the public sale and consumption of alcohol.

Violence broke out in the village of Salka, in the central state of Niger, when officials tried to stop local Kanberi people selling home-made beer at a market place in line with recently-adopted Sharia law.

Reports say the clashes assumed an ethnic and religious character, with non-Muslim Kanberis fighting Hausa people, who are overwhelmingly Muslim.

Nine people were reported killed.

The government said riot police had restored calm in the area.

Licence to brew

Laws restricting the public sale and consumption of alcohol were introduced in some states earlier this year.

Some reports say that vendors in Niger are being allowed to sell alcohol only if they buy a licence costing more than $2,000, far beyond the reach of most local people.

Men at prayer
Sharia is an explosive issue in Nigeria's multi-ethnic soiciety
The licensing law has been extremely unpopular among some non-Muslim communites in Niger State, particularly those which traditionally brew beer.

Government sources say trouble started when officials went to the village of Salka and destroyed pots containing traditional beer known as "burukutu".

Local Kanberi people reacted angrily and the situation degenerated.

A local journalist told the French news agency that the market in the centre of the town had been burned down and a mosque damaged.

Sharia controversy

Niger State is one of eight mainly northern states which introduced, or plan to introduce, strict Islamic law.

Most people who live in northern Nigeria are Muslims, but there are also large numbers of people of other faiths.

Muslim girl
Eight states have introduced Sharia, or are planning to
Although the new alcohol laws are widely flouted, several people have been publicly flogged for contravening them.

Controversy over moves to extend Sharia in the north led to sectarian riots in February in Kaduna and other cities in which hundreds of people were killed.

In October more than 100 people, mostly Hausas, died in Nigeria's largest city Lagos in ethnic clashes.

The divisions which Sharia has opened up have provided Nigeria's new democratic government with one of its most difficult challenges.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

08 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigeria's secret beer mission
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
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories