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AfricaLive Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
The Sharia effect?
Aftermath of Kano riot
The Sharia law has resulted in riots in Kano

The belief is that the launch two years ago of strict Muslim Sharia law in Kano, Nigeria's northern city, would bring down the rate of crime and practice of other vices.

But this does not appear to be the case in the country's biggest Islamic city.

Offenders of the tough prohibitions - theft, adultery, alcohol, drinking and smoking in public, prostitution and gambling - which are outlawed by Sharia, risk punishment by flogging, amputation or stoning to death.

Ironically, many of the thousands of residents who celebrated the Sharia introduction still commit the offences.

"There's no Sharia here in the strict sense," resident Mike Oboh told Africa Live!

"Go round the city and you'll be shocked at how people, both Christians and Muslims, defy Sharia laws with brazen impunity."


In Kano's sleazy suburb of Sabon Gari, dozens of roadside bars sell beer and buzz with excitement.

Young, leggy girls in skimpy clothes, cavort about prostituting for men.

This predominantly Christian-populated neighbourhood, where children and livestock share the dirt-strewn road and open sewers, is always the heart of sectarian violence whenever it erupts.

Sharia punishes criminal acts by amputation
The argument by some people is that Sharia does not exist in Sabon Gari because the state government decided it should apply to only Muslims, when the practice was introduced.

But some people, including Oboh, disagree.

"Even in so-called non-Sharia areas, the vices which Sharia frown at are still being committed," said trader Patience Ogefe.

"The only thing is that they are not carried out publicly. Hence, open drinking parlours and brothels in the Muslim areas have remained shut."


Oboh added: "However, my Muslim friends come to Sabon Gari and other non-Sharia areas to drink, gamble and run after ladies. So, who is fooling who!"

There are also discordant tunes on whether Sharia's introduction has changed people's moral behaviour.

Soldiers were needed to quell anti-Sharia protests
"At least no one has been executed or had their body parts amputated since Sharia was introduced here in Kano," said religious scholar Ibrahim Mohammed.

"The crime rate has also drastically reduced."


The city's police command could not produce statistics on the cases of crime.

But according to records at the Kano Sharia court of appeal, the only notable anti-Sharia incidents were cane lashings administered to a few people for drinking in public.

It pales into insignificance when compared to execution by hanging, the hacking off of limbs, violent floggings and death sentences passed on offenders in neighbouring northern states.

Two years ago in nearby Kaduna state, more than 2,000 were killed in Muslim-Christian fighting following plans to introduce Sharia law there.

Rights organisations, pressure groups and Nigerian citizens have described as "barbaric" and a violation of human rights the Sharia court sentences.

Despite dissociating itself from Sharia, however, the Nigerian Government has come under strong international criticisms over introduction of the Islamic law and punishments.

See also:

29 Sep 02 | AfricaLive
29 Sep 02 | AfricaLive
01 Jul 02 | AfricaLive
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