24 March 2002

Nigeria: Koran Does Not Approve Stoning - Archbishop

Lagos — Warns of the Consequences of Killing Safiya

Catholic Archbishop of Lagos Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie has warned of the grave consequences of stoning Safiya Hussaini Tundu to death, just as he debunked contentions in Moslem quarters that the Koran approves stoning to death for adultery.

Apparently supporting Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Kanu Agabi's statement to the Northern Governors operating Sharia Laws to be cautious in the application of the Law. Okogie noted in a statement that what the governors were doing were already outside the stipulation of the Islamic legal code, and warned of the great consequences, should the governors continued the implementation of the Sharia Law in their respective States with utmost disregard to the nations constitution.

Issuing the warning and contention in a strongly worded press statement signed by the Director of Social Communications, Lagos Archdiocese. Reverend Father.

Gabriel Osu, the Archbishop equally condemned shedding of human blood because, according to him, blood in the Holy Book means life stressing that God alone is the Author of life.

He asserted that the well known Mahmud Mohammed Taha made a clear distinction between Sharia and Islam, stressing that "Sharia is not part of Islamic religion, but deals solely with customs and traditions of a particular people living at the time and, in the land of a particular nation and that it is not transferable".

"Safiya must not be stoned to death: laws are made for man, not man for law. What will anyone gain from shedding human blood". the clergyman cautioned.

Okogie said that the "official text of the Koran only sanctions a punishment of so many lashes for such an offence not stoning to death": adding that the "punishment of stoning was introduced later by Omar. the second Calif for reasons best known to him ".

Calling on the governors to respect the voice of the people which he said was the voice of God, Okogie urged the northern governors to use the Electoral Act which was made by man and amended accordingly by same man to guide them.

"The nation has just managed to get out of the riddle of the Electoral Act declared null and void. How can you explain the man made inclusion in the Koran? Laws are afterwards made for man not man for law. What will anyone gain from shedding human blood" ?

"God will definitely not come down from heaven to speak to us or does the adage not say Vox Populi vox Dei! The voice of people is the \oice of God! Remember only the truth can make us free". he queried'?

He condemned the insistence of the State Counsel of the stonine of Safiya despite appeals from both the international communitN. human riehts organisation. amone others~ to temper justice with mercy.

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