The Oasis Reporters
March 1, 2021
By Greg Abolo.
The sleepy little town in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State where a man’s forefinger was amputated by the government of Sani Yerima in year 2002 as he launched Shari’a law with fanfare with the wind blowing all over northern Nigeria, bringing in it’s wake, trauma, confusion, terror and dislocations.
Zamfara was the first state to introduce Islamic Shari’a law in northern Nigeria that rattled the new democratic government of Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian from Nigeria’s South West, has been largely controversial. Then president Obasanjo called it political Shari’a “that would soon fizzle out”.
New forms of punishment was introduced, such as the amputation of the limbs of thieves.
A poor Hausa man, Buba Jangebe whose wife complained that they often went to bed, hungry, made history in 2002 as the first person in Nigeria to have an amputation carried out under Islamic law after being found guilty of stealing a cow.
He said then that he was not upset about losing his hand because it led to the end of his 12-year career as a thief.
This is why, he says, he refused to appeal against the verdict and says he is happy that his new life as an honest man is paying off.
He then got employed as a messenger in a secondary school in his home village of Jangebe and twenty one years after, frightened pre-teen girls have been abducted from their school dormitory by bandits the government seems afraid to confront, prosecute or deal with.
Worried parents have been showing up in the Girls Junior Secondary School, hoping for news of their kidnapped wards.
“When I was a thief, there were lots of problems, there was no money, I had no peace. At that time, my relatives deserted me. They were all afraid of me”, Mr.Jangebe had said at that time, further adding that “things have now changed. I now visit my relatives and they also visit me. For this, I thank God for the amputation,” he said.
He also said the amputation has transformed him from a notorious thief into a religious person.
But human rights lawyers had told the BBC then that amputees such as Mr Jangebe and Mr Isa are often not aware of their right to appeal against Sharia judgements, believing them to be God’s will.
The lawyers say that many of those convicted in Islamic courts are illiterate, mostly Hausa and that they must be educated about Sharia law.
Many are asking that the punishment meted upon Jangebe that made him a much more religious person can persuade their own northern children who now rustle cattle with automatic rifles that the military is neither willing nor motivated enough to match, leaving the region vulnerable, work under today’s strenuous northern Nigerian conditions where they have large expanse of land, yet children beg for food.
Consequently, a spate of kidnappings, targeting vulnerable groups particularly in the north continues unabated.
The release of the Kagara students comes a day after 317 schoolgirls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara state.
The kidnapped girls, many, under 12 years old are going to live with the trauma of having had a close proximity time in the unfriendly bush with bandits who wield AK47 rifles, some even own RPG weapons. Many may find it difficult to go back to school after the nasty experience.
Additional reporting: BBC