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Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 13:56 GMT
Nigerian cleric angry after release
Nigerian Muslims
A fatwa was issued by northern Nigerian Muslims
A Muslim leader from the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna has accused the authorities of arresting him for political reasons.

Nafiu Baba Ahmed, secretary general of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, was released on bail on Monday after being arrested in connection with religious riots in which more than 200 people were killed.


The governor for some reason just wants to get even with some people

Nafiu Baba Ahmed
He told the BBC he was taken to state headquarters, was interrogated and was then told he would be charged with conspiracy to commit arson and rioting.

More than 300 people were arrested in connection with the riots, which were sparked by the Miss World beauty contest, but there has been criticism that the ringleaders have been left alone.

Following the riots, which saw deadly attacks on the city's Christians and then retaliation against Muslim targets, the Miss World contest was switched to London, where the final is due on 7 December.

The rioting was triggered by an article in the Lagos-based ThisDay newspaper, saying that the Prophet Mohammed might have approved of the contest - and even chosen to marry one of the contestants.

Following the cleric's arrest, the Sharia Council threatened to mobilise Muslims against the governor of Kaduna.

"The governor for some reason just wants to get even with some people that he feels are perhaps a problem to him," the secretary general told the BBC's Network Africa.

Political arrest

The Sharia Council believe the arrest was linked to Mr Nafiu's opposition to Kaduna Governor Ahmed Makarfi, an ally of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Some accuse the governor of being too soft in implementing Kaduna's Sharia law.

Analysts say the rioting was an attempt by northern Muslims to embarrass Mr Obasanjo, a southern Christian, who is standing for re-election next year.

ThisDay has apologised for publishing the article and the fashion journalist who wrote it, Isioma Daniel, has fled the country after some Muslim radicals threatened to kill her.

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Nafiu Baba-Ahmed
"I was obviously surrounded by a team of their best interrogators"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Miss World row
What next for Nigeria?
 VOTE RESULTS
Was the press to blame for Miss World fiasco?

Yes
 49.23% 

No
 50.77% 

130 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Miss World row

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29 Nov 02 | Africa
25 Nov 02 | Africa
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