Islamic Law Spreading to Southern Nigeria

Attempts are being made to implement sharia (Islamic law) among the Muslim community in the State of Oyo in southwestern Nigeria. This is the first time that adoption of full sharia has been proposed in the southern part of the country, which is predominantly Christian.

Following the refusal of the Oyo state government to implement sharia officially, Muslim groups announced on April 30 that they would adopt sharia on a civil basis. A panel of Islamic scholars will adjudicate cases. Although this panel has no legal status, Muslims are encouraged to bring cases before it and accept its rulings.

Tensions provoked by the adoption of full sharia in 12 states in northern Nigerian in the last two years has led to riots that have left thousands dead. There is concern that Muslim converts to Christianity could face the death penalty, as required by sharia.