Stop Amputation Now

I am writing to urge the governor of Zamfara state, Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, not to authorize the amputation of Auwalu Abubaka, 23, and Lawalli Musa, 22. Recently, a sharia court in the state convicted the two for stealing a bull and ordered that their hands be amputated at the wrist in public(1). The amputation is scheduled to take place on October 8. Meanwhile the judge stated that Abubaka and Musa could appeal against the sentence. However, right now there are not indications that they have appealed or can afford to appeal, so the fate of Abubaka and Musa is in the hands of Governor Yari.

In 1999, Zamfara state was the first to introduce sharia law. And in 2000, Zamfara’s first amputation of Buba Jangede attracted widespread international condemnation(2). Amputation is an inhuman and degrading form of punishment. Like the penalty of stoning ‘criminals’ to death, amputation is a form of punishment that was introduced at a time there were no jails to keep and rehabilitate convicted criminals. Simply put, amputation is a primitive and barbaric form of penalty and lacks any justification in the name of culture, religion or tradition in this 21st century. Like the death penalty, amputation is an irremediable form of punishment. Because the wrists of criminals, once they are chopped off, cannot be replaced if at any point it is realized that there were errors in the prosecution, conviction or judgement. Like in this case, often those who are targeted, tried and sentenced to amputation by sharia courts are mainly the poor, underprivilleged and uneducated folks who cannot afford proper legal representation during their trials. Zamfara state will once again outrage the world if it goes ahead to amputate Abubaka and Musa. The government will portray itself as one that lacks compassion and is insensitive to human rights. Chopping off the wrists of Abubaka and Musa will not give Zamfara and the religion of Islam a much-needed positive image. So I am appealing to Governor Yari not to approve the amputation of Abubaka and Musa. Instead, Governor Yari should take measures to stop all amputations in the state by converting such sentences to jails terms.



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