Uneasy Calm in Kaduna As Sharia Kicks Off

Uneasy calm rules Kaduna, the political headquarters of the North as the state begins formal implementation of the Islamic Legal System, popularly called Sharia.

Many non-Muslims, out of apprehension, have kept their children from school and restricted their movement to zones considered safe.

The state government had earlier declared that it will not attach any fanfare to the commencement of Sharia in the state to prevent the situation from being used to foment trouble in the state.

But in an address during the swearing-in-ceremony of three high court judges and judges of the state's Customary Court of appeal, the state Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, warned that the state would deal decisively with any religious or political leader that uses the implementation of the judicial system to cause confusion in the state. Not satisfied with the governor's warning, a church, Voice of God Prophetic Ministries International, with headquarters in Kaduna has commenced a 15-day fasting and prayer for the peace of the state, following the commencement of Sharia in the State.

Reverend Elijah Ogbonna Agbom, General Overseer of the church, told P.M.News that "all is not well and only prayers can guarantee peace in the state".

But most parts of the state remained peaceful with security personnel placed on high alert to prevent a breakdown of order. Under Kaduna's brand of Sharia, application of the laws are restricted to areas that are predominantly Muslim and their cases would be handled by Sharia courts, while appeals will go to the Sharia courts of appeal.

Non-Muslims, however, have the option of magistrate and customary courts. The Customary Court of Appeal has also begun functioning in the state.

Kaduna's Sharia appears unique as it has neither an implementation committee nor a Hisbah, implying that it will have no pool of men to fish out offenders. Observers see it as a political scheme to please Muslim agitators for the Islamic legal code.