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Police who enforce Islamic law in Nigeria’s northern
city of Kano have arrested 150 people in the last
week, including for indecent dress, as part of a
crackdown on immorality, a spokesman said
Tuesday.
Some people in Nigeria’s second city have been
picked up for sporting hair styles inspired by
prominent international football players, said
Mohammed Yusuf Yola, spokesman for Kano’s sharia
police, or Hisbah.
Others were thrown in jail and fined for wearing their
trousers too low on their waists, mimicking a style
that became prominent in the 1990s, partly through
the influence of some American hip hop artists.
The arrests have followed an order by Kano state
Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso to cleanse the city
of immoral practices and the trend is set to continue
in the weeks ahead, said Hisbah Director-General
Abba Sufi.
The Hisbah is a state police force funded by state
government and is not part of the federal police.
“We have arrested 150 men and women in the past
week, including prostitutes and their boyfriends,
transvestites, alcoholics and those engaged in
indecent dressing in contravention of the sharia legal
code,” Yola told AFP.
Irregular enforcement
Religion has repeatedly been used as a political issue
in Kano and the governor, seen as a moderate, has
been accused by rivals of lacking commitment to
sharia’s guidelines.
Yola insisted the operation was launched to reverse
disturbing trends in the city of some five million
people and is targeting people of various faiths.
“Those arrested include Muslims and non-Muslims
and we treat them equally because this is about
morality,” he said.
Kano, like the rest of northern Nigeria, is majority
Muslim, but the city has a sizeable Christian
minority.
Some of those arrested have been released after
paying fines ranging from 10,000 naira ($63, 46
euros) to 15,000 naira, Yola said.
“Those who could not afford the fine are being kept
in prison,” he added, but he would not specify the
number of people currently being held.
At the restoration of civilian rule in 1999, 12 northern
states, including Kano, formally adopted sharia, but
the Islamic legal system has been unevenly applied.
The Hisbah was formed in 2001, largely to enforce
sharia, but the force has other duties, including some
community development work and alternative
dispute resolution.
The southern half of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous
country, is mostly Christian.

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