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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 18:31 GMT
Kaduna introduces Sharia
Kaduna
Much of Kaduna was destroyed in last year's violence
The state parliament in Kaduna, in central Nigeria, has voted to introduce a limited form of Sharia, or Islamic law, a year after more than 1,000 people were killed in religious riots in the state.

The code will only be used in the lower courts.

Civil law will continue to be used in Kaduna's higher courts - where more serious offences are tried.

The state government delayed the introduction of Sharia, following the riots, for further consultation.

A BBC correspondent in Nigeria says the limited introduction of the code is an attempt to balance the interest of the two religions - in a state where the population is split equally between Muslims and Christians.

victims of the Kaduna Sharia clashes
Many southern Christians fled Kaduna
Protests by Christians against the introduction of Sharia in Kaduna sparked bloody riots in February and May last year in which churches and mosques were razed to the ground.

The governor announced the Sharia compromise in October and police warned against violent protests.

Eight states across northern Nigeria introduced Sharia last year, despite condemnation from President Olusegun Obasanjo that their actions are unconstitutional.

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

Sharia is supported by some northern politicians who are opposed to the government.

But it also has massive popular appeal to those who believe it will help root out corruption and restore moral values.

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11 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigeria's bishops confront Sharia
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