Nigeria sharia court bans amputation ‘tweets’

Suspends Twitter, Facebook online debates


An Islamic Sharia court in northern Nigeria on Tuesday permanently banned a local rights group from discussing the country's first amputation for theft on the Internet, an activist said.

The same court had last week issued an interim order cutting off all online chats on the amputation of Buba Bello Jangebe's wrist in 2000 for the theft of a cow.

"The Magajin Gari Sharia court has made its ruling banning Civil Rights Congress (CRC) permanently from discussing the amputation of Buba Bello Jangebe," Shehu Sani, leader of the CRC told AFP.

"By this ruling it has become illegal for us to continue with the discussion on the 10th year anniversary of the amputation," he said.

The court last week ordered CRC to suspend its Twitter and Facebook online debates on the amputation.

Jangebe was the first person to have had his right wrist cut on the orders of a Sharia court in Zamfara State, a year after 12 northern Nigerian states adopted the strict Islamic penal code.

By this ruling it has become illegal for us to continue with the discussion on the 10th year anniversary of the amputation

Shehu Sani

“Mockery of Sharia”

The ruling arose from a suit filed on March 19 by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, a pro-Sharia group based in the northern political capital of Kaduna.

The Muslim group, whose group packed the courtroom on Tuesday, argued that Internet forums would be used as "a mockery of the Sharia system as negative issues will be discussed".

Lawyers for both sides argued the case for around 90 minutes before the judge Malam Lawal read out a 10-minute judgment.

The ruling is the first of its kind in Nigeria.

Around 100 members of the Muslim brotherhood burst into chants 'Allahu Akbar' (meaning "God is great") at the victory shortly after judgment was handed down, a witness said.

CRC members donned white T-shirts bearing "our right to Facebook and freedom to Twitter must not be violated" also squeezed for space in the packed courtroom.

The leading rights group in northern Nigeria launched the chat forums early this month to elicit public opinion on the amputation as well as lobby for a state apology to Jangebe and provision of an artificial limb for the amputee.

But the Muslim Brotherhood said Jangebe had neither contested his amputation nor appointed CRC as his attorneys or mouthpieces in the amputation case.

Out of Nigeria's 36 states, 12 re-adopted a strict version of Sharia in 1999 nearly a century after it had been abandoned.

Zamfara state in the predominantly Muslim north of the country pioneered the move after Nigeria returned to civilian rule following 15 years of military dictatorship.