A curious order emanating from a Sharia judge in Kaduna State is seeking to gag users in a forum launched recently on an amputation case on Facebook and Twitter.
Justice Lawal Muhammed of Magajin Gari Sharia Court in Kaduna has ordered social networking sites - Facebook and Twitter - to stop discussions on the amputation of Buba Bello Jangebe until the determination of the suit instituted by the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria.
The restraining order is the first of its kind in Nigeria where a court seeks to interfere in the freedom of interaction and activities of people online.
It is not clear how the restraining order would be enforced.
But it has been delivered to the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) that opened the discussion on Sharia law and Jangebe on Facebook and Twitter recently.
Court documents obtained in Kaduna confirmed the ruling of Justice Muhammed.
“An order is hereby given restraining the respondents (CRC) either by themselves or their agents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe,” the document read.
Jangebe was the first person to have his right wrist amputated on the orders of a Sharia court in Zamfara State, a year after 12 Northern states adopted the strict Islamic penal code during the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
In an interview , President of the CRC Shehu Sani said the group would challenge the order at a higher court. He said the order tramples on his right to free speech and freedom of association.
Sani added that the chat forum was opened about 10 days ago to provide an avenue for Nigerians to discuss Sharia law as a whole and the amputation of Jangebe in particular.
“We opened the blog on Facebook and Twitter chats 10 days ago to serve as a platform for which Nigerians could air their opinions on Sharia law as a whole and the justification or otherwise of the amputation of the hand of Malam Buba Bello Jangebe,” Sani said.
This is not the first time Sani is having an encounter with Sharia courts in the North.
In 2008, one of the courts banned his satirical play “Phantom Crescent” after it ruled that the content violates Sharia law. The ban was later lifted on appeal.
Kaduna is one of 12 states to introduce the stricter version of Sharia law in the North after Zamfara signed it into law in 1999.
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