A 29 year-old man became the first person in southern Nigeria to be punished under Islamic law when he was given 100 lashes on Thursday for indulging in pre-marital sex. Suleiman Shittu was flogged before a crowd of hundreds in front of the main mosque in the southwestern town of Ibadan, Oyo State, which has a large Muslim population.
IRIN – 1 November 2002 – Oyo State has not formally introduced Shari’ah law, but Shittu made a confession and voluntarily submitted himself for punishment before an independent panel set up by a pro-Shari’ah group early in the year. As two men administered the punishment, the watching crowd roared “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) at each stroke of the cane.
Newspaper reports said the victim’s father, who arrived on the scene soon after, protested against the punishment, describing it as “illegal and provocative“.
The chairman of the panel which ordered the flogging, Ahmed Tijanni, was reported by Thisday daily as saying he had been reluctant to order the punishment but had no choice after Shittu insisted that he wanted it. “Since the man voluntarily confessed and demanded that he be punished according to Shari’ah law, we had no option than to do it, if not Allah will punish us,” he was quoted as saying.
In the past three years, 12 states in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north have introduced strict Islamic law, which prescribes punishments such as amputations for stealing and stoning to death for adultery. Appeals against death sentences passed on four people convicted of adultery are pending in different northern states.
States in the southwest that have large Muslim populations have so far resisted pressure to introduce the Shari’ah, whose application has raised tension between Nigeria’s north and the mainly Christian south, and resulted in violence that has claimed thousands of lives.
Nigeria’s 120 million people are almost evenly split between Muslims and Christians.
This article comes via IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks), a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
© UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2002