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Judicial Practice in Islamic Criminal Law In Nigeria—a Tentative Overview

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Uniquely, in Nigeria Islamic Criminal Law was introduced in the framework of a secular federal constitution. In 2000 and 2001, twelve Northern states adopted legislation on the hadd offences and the Islamic law on homicide and bodily harm. Reliable statistics on the number of cases tried under the new laws are unavailable. Based on information from the media and human rights organisations, I present roughly 125 criminal cases tried before Nigerian Sharī'a courts between 2000 and 2004. This sample shows that Sharī'a was particularly enforced in states dominated by the Hausa. In religiously mixed states, the bid to introduce Sharī'a became part of the religious groups' competition for hegemony and access to public resources, with violent consequences. The expectations which many Muslims attached to the introduction of Sharī'a were inflated. Its impact on the security of life and property, the fight against corruption and the promotion of good governance has probably been minimal.

Affiliations: 1: Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


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