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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Nigerian Sharia court bans play
Nigeria map
An Islamic court in Nigeria has banned a satirical play written by a rights activist about corrupt politicians in states run under Sharia law.

Shehu Sani's play Phantom Crescent lampoons officials who use Sharia laws to help them plunder state funds.

A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday; meanwhile a performance on 23 October has been postponed.

Since Nigeria's return to civil rule in 1999, Sharia law has been introduced in 12 mainly Muslim states in the north.

The order was issued by a court in the northern state of Kaduna in response to a motion filed by a pro-Sharia group.

Mr Sani told the AFP news agency: "I have contacted my lawyers who are prepared to fight this infringement on my fundamental right to freedom of expression."

He said his play was a satire depicting how politicians - especially governors of the states implementing the Islamic Sharia legal system - used the system "as a tool for looting the public treasury with impunity and for stifling opposition".

This latest act of censorship comes after the authorities in Kano State suspended all filming in August for six months after a video clip of popular actress Maryam Hiyana having sex with a married man.

Officials said that in future actors and directors would need a licence to make films and production companies would have to meet strict criteria before being be allowed to do business.

Sharia courts use an Islamic system of law based on the ancient verses of the Koran and they run concurrently in northern Nigeria with the national civil system.

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