A foremost Islamic organisation in Nigeria has passed a death sentence (fatwa) on a Muslim, Muhammadu Bello Masaba, for marrying over 80 wives contrary to the Islamic religion, the private Guardian newspaper reported Friday.
The paper said the Jamatu Nasril Islam (JNI) passed the sentence on Masaba, who hails from Bida in central Niger State, in a statement it issued from its secretariat in the northern city of Kaduna.
JNI said Masaba remained condemned to death, in accordance with the Islamic Sharia law, unless he ‘repents’ within four days and selects only four wives from the 86.
Analysts expressed doubt that the sentence can be carried out, especially since it was issued by an Islamic organisation rather than a Sharia court.
However, they did not rule out the fact that overzealous faithful may take the law into their own hands by going after Masaba.
Though the strict version of the Sharia is practiced in several states in the predominantly-Muslim northern Nigeria, Masaba has not been dragged before a Sharia court.
Civil rights organisations in the north have condemned the sentence.
”The decision stands condemned, This is a society where we have emirs that marry more than four wives, including uncountable concubines,” said Chairman of Socialists Front Shehu Sani.
”The same applies to our other leaders here. Why victimise Masaba by passing fatwa on him. We will not accept it,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.
In an interview with the BBC, Muhammadu Bello Masaba said that “To my understanding the Koran does not place a limit and it is up to what your own power, your own endowment and ability allows […] God did not say what the punishment should be for a man who has more than four wives, but he was specific about the punishment for fornication and adultery.”
Muhammadu Bello Masaba story came into light two weeks ago when the Nigerian and international press reported on the case. It was also reported that Muhammadu Bello Masaba had 86 wives.