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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 08:11 GMT
Nigeria's first Sharia execution
Nigerian soldier after rioting in the state of Kaduna, February, 2000
Thousands were killed in protests against Sharia
A 27-year-old man has been hanged for murder in Nigeria in the first execution since Islamic law - or Sharia - was introduced in much of the north of the country.

Sani Yakubu was convicted of killing a woman and her two young children during a robbery at their home in the northern state of Katsina.

Amputee
Sharia punishments include amputations
His hanging at a prison in Kaduna, 290 kilometres (180 miles) south of Katsina, was witnessed by relatives of the victims and government officials.

Katsina is one of a dozen northern Nigerian states to have adopted Islamic law over the past two years.

The Islamic court in Katsina had initially sentenced Yakubu to die by stabbing, using the same knife he was alleged to have used to murder his victims.

Reports suggest the Sharia authorities changed their minds to avoid triggering renewed outbreaks of violence between Muslim and Christians in Kaduna, where more than 2,000 people died two years ago during protests against the introduction of Sharia.

Nigeria's sizeable Christian population has opposed the implementation of Sharia, which includes punishments such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery and flogging for the drinking of alcohol.

In the nearby state of Sokoto, a Nigerian mother of five is facing a sentence of death by stoning after being convicted of having sex outside marriage.

The country's constitution permits executions for serious crimes, although until now none had been carried out since President Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999.

See also:

05 Dec 01 | Africa
Living on Nigeria's death row
19 Oct 01 | Africa
Nigerian appeals Sharia sentence
15 Oct 01 | Africa
Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split
14 Sep 01 | Africa
Nigerian sentenced to stoning
09 Sep 01 | Africa
Dozens killed in Nigeria violence
21 Jun 00 | Africa
The many faces of Sharia
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