Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Nigeria Islamic court 'bans Twitter feed'

Amputee Lawali Isa, file image
Court-ordered amputations remain controversial in Nigeria

An Islamic court in Nigeria has banned a rights group from hosting debates on the Twitter and Facebook websites on the use of amputations as a punishment.

The court, in the northern city of Kaduna, backed a case brought by a pro-Sharia group arguing that the forums would mock the Sharia system.

The rights group, the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, said it would appeal against the ruling.

Sharia judges can order amputations of limbs for petty crimes in some states.

The courts mostly deal with domestic issues such as marriage and divorce.

Sharia judges have sentenced some women to death by stoning for adultery, but the sentences have not been carried out.

Amputation anniversary

The newspaper ThisDay quoted the judge's ruling as saying:"An order is hereby given restraining the respondents either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe."

In 2000, Jangebe made history as the first person in Nigeria to have an amputation carried out under Islamic law after being found guilty of stealing a cow.

The Civil Rights Congress said it had started a Twitter feed, blog and Facebook debate on Jangebe so "Nigerians could air their opinions on Sharia law as a whole".

The group told the BBC's Hausa service it would appeal against the ruling.

The Sharia code runs alongside the secular state system in 12 of Nigeria's 36 states, and citizens can choose which system they deal with.

It is not clear whether the Kaduna court has the authority to enforce the ruling, which analysts say is the first such judgement in Nigeria.

The judge was ruling on a case brought by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, a Kaduna-based pro-Sharia group.

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