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Nigerian Islamic court orders amputation

Nigerian Islamic judges have ordered that a teenager from Niger have his hand cut off after he confessed to stealing a motorbike, court officials said on Monday.

This is thought to be the first time that a foreign national has been sentenced to amputation since northern Nigeria began to reintroduce sharia, the strict Islamic legal code, in 1999.

Lawal Usman (19), from the Niger district of Maradi, was convicted under sharia law in the northern city of Katsina on Friday, court registrar Nasir Darma said.

A presiding judge at the Katsina Upper Sharia Court Three, Mustapha Sani Saulawa, ruled that Usman should have his right hand amputated at the wrist. The convict has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

”It does not matter where the offence was committed. Since he was arrested here, he is liable,” Saulawa said, according to the registrar.

Many thousands of villagers have fled the Maradi region of Niger for nearby Nigeria following four years of drought, famine and locust swarms.

Usman was charged on August 23 2005 after Nigerian police stopped him during a routine traffic check and found him he could not produce ownership documents for his motorbike.

During interrogation, Usman told the police he stole the bike from his village.

The implementation of Islamic law in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria — and in particular the use of amputation — has been criticised by Nigeria’s federal government and human rights activists. — Sapa-AFP

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