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Second Shari`ah Court Opens in South Nigeria
By Khedr Abdel Baki, IOL Correspondent

LAGOS , April 26, 2006 ( – A Shari`ah court was inaugurated in the southern state of Osun on Tuesday, April 25, to look into Muslim civil cases, the second such court in the largely-Christian south.

“The court groups senior Muslim scholars and jurists who will rule in Muslims’ civil and personal cases according to Shari `ah,” said Sheikh Salawudeen Olayiwola, Chairman of the Osun State Muslim Community, which championed the move.

He added that the court, launched unilaterally without government mandate, would only look into cases filed voluntarily by Muslims in the state.

“It is meant for Muslims and not for non-Muslims and it is not out to challenge any existing laws of the land,” averred Olayiwola.

It will be headquartered at the grand mosque in Oṣogbo, the state capital, and will meet twice a week.

The south-western state of Oyo also hosts a Shari `ah court.


Olayiwola shrugged off criticism that the court would have no official mandate to enforce its rulings.

“People voluntarily take their cases to Shari `ah courts which means they are willing to abide by our rulings.”

Yusuf Alli, the former federal attorney general, called for expanding the introduction of Shari `ah courts in the West African country.

“This would help accelerate real progress in Nigeria and reduce social ills such as corruption,” he opined.

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa .

The recent census shows that Muslims make up 55 percent of the country’s 133 million, Christians 40 percent and five percent atheists.

Twelve of Nigeria ’s 36 states have gradually applied the provisions of Shari `ah since the return of democracy to the country in 1999, despite the fierce opposition from the federal government.