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ICC NOTE: It will be interesting to see how this plays out: If this ban is lifted, it will be yet another victory for those seeking to enforce the Sharia law, ultimately affecting the Nigerian Christians…

Nigerian Muslim state challenges vigilante ban

13 Feb 2006

Source: Reuters

For the full article go to:

ABUJA, Feb 13 (Reuters) – A northern Nigerian state accused of training “jihadists” filed a legal application on Monday to lift a central government ban on a group of Islamic vigilantes used to enforce Sharia law, papers at the Supreme Court showed.

The federal authorities said last week Nigeria’s Kano state was trying to turn its Hisbah force into a parallel security outfit, and accused the state of seeking foreign sponsorship to train “jihadists” posing a threat to national security.

In papers filed at the Supreme Court, the Kano state government is seeking an order to stop the federal government from interfering with Hisbah, a volunteer force whose members enforce Sharia law in the state.

Kano is one of 12 mainly Muslim northern states that in 2000 reintroduced the Islamic Sharia criminal code, which had been discarded during colonial rule under Britain .

The decision has alienated Christian minorities in those states. Kano was one of many flashpoints of inter-religious violence which has killed thousands of people in Nigeria in the last six years.

Nigeria , Africa ‘s most populous country with 140 million people, is split about equally between Muslims and Christians. Religious violence in the north often sparks reprisal killings in the mainly Christian south, and vice versa.

Hisbah committees, who arrest and detain suspects, sometimes use violence to enforce Sharia rules. They recently clashed with motorcycle taxi riders caught carrying women passengers, in breach of new Sharia-compatible public transport regulations.

Hisbah volunteers also enforce alcohol bans across the 12 Sharia states, in the face of opposition from Christian minorities.

The police banned Hisbah along with another vigilante group, known as the Bakassi Boys, which operates in the southeastern region and has been accused of serious human rights abuses.