Northern Nigerian state adopts Islamic law


The governor of the northern Nigerian state of Gombe has signed a bill adopting Islamic law.

But he has sought to reassure Christians that they would not be subject to the strict legal code.

Signing a bill approved by Gombe's state legislature adopting Islamic Sharia law, Governor Mr Abubakar Hashidu was quoted as saying, "If you are a Christian, your right is protected under the common law. If you are a Muslim, your right is also protected under Sharia".

He said Islamic courts would be established for Muslims in the state, while non-Muslims' grievances would continue to be heard by customary or civil courts in the state.

"If there is a case between a Christian or a traditionalist or between a Muslim and traditionalist, or any of the three, there is going to be a common law judge and customary law judge," Hashidu said. "So whenever the two or three [parties] are affected, there is a way to adjudicate."

The authorities in a dozen, mainly Muslim, northern Nigerian states have introduced some element of the strict Islamic legal code over the past two years.

This has been denounced by the Christian minority in the north and the central government of President Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, himself a Christian, and has even fuelled talk of a break-up of the Nigerian federation along religious lines.

In June and July, up to 1,000 Christians and Muslims died in religious clashes in the northern state of Bauchi, with the battles fought over the restoration of Sharia.