Removing Obstacles to Shariah Implementation
Daily Trust (Abuja)
16 October 2008
Posted to the web 17 October 2008

By Sani Adamu
The Islamic legal system, Shariah, was reintroduced in the country when former Governor Ahmed Yarima adopted it in Zamfara State in 1999.

Subsequently, 10 other states in the North embraced the system in apparent response to the wishes of their people. The states are Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Kaduna and Yobe.

However, the introduction of the legal code was not without concern by most Nigerians as it generated anxiety in many quarters. For some, the introduction of shariah was unconstitutional, even as former President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed optimism that “politically-motivated shariah will fizzle out, while genuine shariah will remain with Muslims”. However, records show that the initial enthusiasm generated by the legal code is gradually waning in most of the 11 states where it is being implemented. There is ample evidence to show that some of the “shariah governors”, as they are fondly called, have failed to ratify the numerous sentences imposed by the various Shariah Courts.

The sentences include limb amputation and death by stoning. Absolving themselves of allegations of deliberate refusal to ratify the sentences, the governors in turn accuse the Shariah Court judges of “hurriedly passing such sentences without following due legal process”. But some concerned Islamic scholars blame the difficulty in implementing the legal system on constitutional constraints and lacuna. So far, no fewer than 23 persons are currently awaiting amputation and death by stoning in Bauchi State alone. Many of the convicts have remained in prison custody for about seven years without the ratification or otherwise of their sentences by the state government.

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