Nigeria: Thief's hand amputated

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The Independent Online

A man convicted under Islamic law of steeling cows had his right hand amputated in northern Nigeria, the government said Thursday.

A man convicted under Islamic law of steeling cows had his right hand amputated in northern Nigeria, the government said Thursday.

The middle-aged Buba Bello Janged was convicted last month by a sharia court in Talata-Mafara village, the Zamfara state government said in a statement. He was given 30 days to appeal.

When no appeal was lodged, the sentence was carried out on Wednesday. State authorities gave no further details.

Zamfara became the first Nigerian state to adopt sharia, or Islamic law, in January, and two other states are following suit.

For years, Islamic courts have settled civil cases, such as divorces and inheritances, among Muslims. But the new sharia created courts with the power to try criminal cases involving Muslims and mete out punishments.

Sharia supporters have assured non-Muslims they will not be tried under Islamic law, which prohibits such things as drinking alcohol and also calls for separate schools and public transportation for men and women. But such assurances have meant little to Christians, who fear becoming marginalized or discriminated against.

Their fears are fed by the country's newspapers in the largely Christian south, which have filled pages with dire warnings of the punishments Christians will face.

Plans to introduce sharia in northern Kaduna state last month sparked days of bloody clashes between Christians and Muslims in several towns. More than 2,000 people were killed in the violence, some officials say.

That fighting sparked off revenge attacks in the southeast, where hundreds more were killed.

Trying to end the violence, Obasanjo's government convinced northern leaders to back away from attempts to introduce sharia. The informal agreement said states that already had sharia would stop enforcing it, while states seeking to put it into effect would hold off for now.

But the governor of Zamfara subsee could not be compelled to halt sharia.

Four private lawsuits have been filed with the high court in the state capital of Gusau challenging the constitutionality of sharia. No date has been set to hear the cases.

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