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Nigeria: Amputation Imposed as Sentence for Theft

(Sept. 13, 2011) On September 8, 2011, a Shariah court in Nigeria's northern, predominately Muslim region sentenced two men to amputation for theft. The sentence of amputation at the right wrist was given to the men for stealing a bull worth about 130,000 naira (about US$867). The two young men, Auwalu Abubaka, age 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22, have 30 days to appeal the sentence, which is due to be imposed on October 8. The court, located in the village of Nassarawan Mailayi in the northern Nigerian state of Zamfara, ordered that the sentence be carried out in public, on a market day. (Nigerian Court Sentences 2 to Amputation for Theft, AFP (Sept. 9, 2011).)

The judge in this case, Muhammadu Abubakar, stated that the sentence was “[b]ased on the admission of guilt by the two of you of trespassing into the house … and stealing a bull whose worth is well above the minimum value to warrant amputation … .” (Id.)

Shariah law is in place in 12 Nigerian states, but enforcement is uneven. Sentences of amputation have been carried out very rarely. (Id.) The State of Zamfara was the first in the country to adopt Islamic law following Nigeria's 1999 return to democracy. The first Nigerian case of a penalty of amputation occurred a year later, when Buba Jangebe was so punished for theft of a cow. (Nigeria's Zamfara Sharia Court Orders Amputation, BBC NEWS AFRICA (Sept. 9, 2011).)