When English journalist, writer and novelist, Eric Arthur Blair published his famous piece of literary genius titled ‘’Animal Farm’’ in 1945, he possibly didn’t have Kano in mind. Writing under the pen name of George Orwell, Animal Farm was an allegorical depiction, which unravelled the internal contradictions, double standards, unequal and selective application of the law in an otherwise great proletariat utopia that the Stalinist Soviet Union was supposed to be. Seventy five years later in the year 2020, the unequal and selective application of the law of equality of all comrades in Stalinist Soviet Union, which was satirically depicted in George Orwell’s Animal Farm as ‘’all animals are equal but some are more equal than others’’ bears some semblance to the unequal application of Sharia law in Ganduje’s Kano state.
Just as the great proletariat revolution of October 1917 led by the Bolsheviks repealed and replaced the capitalist Tsarist Russian Empire with a communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, after a prolonged Marxist ideological struggle, so did some states in northern Nigeria adopt the Sharia Muslim law in 1999 in a bid to repeal and replace secular constitutionalism with an Islamic state after several decades of agitation for the full implementation of Muslims religious laws was championed by clerics across the region. However, the recent conviction of a Muslim singer and his sentencing to death by a Sharia court in Kano state has laid bare the inequality of Muslims before the Sharia law of the state as was the case of comrades in the former Soviet Union.
Following the conviction and sentencing to death of the Muslim Kano singer who was found guilty of blasphemy against the prophet of Islam, Muhammad PBUH, by a Sharia court in Kano State, Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje has welcomed the verdict and pledged to sign the death warrant in order not to delay justice to the applause of many. Ordinarily, if the Sharia law of Kano state is equally applied to all, Governor Ganduje who was caught on video tape discreetly collecting huge sums of money in dollar denomination from a government contractor and stuffing them into his pockets should have no limbs left to sign the death warrant of the convicted for blasphemy Kano singer.
Safe for the selective application of the law in the Kano Animal Farm, where ‘’all Muslims are equal but some are more equal than others’’ Governor Ganduje, with a clear primacie case of stealing public funds by proxy already established against him, Hisbah, the state religious police should have charged him before a Sharia court for trial for theft. Whereas, the Quran, which is the grundnorm of the Sharia legal jurisprudence as the only divine source, did not prescribe a punishment for blasphemy, it unequivocally prescribes cutting off the limbs that was used to commit the criminal act of theft in the following verses; ‘’as to a thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power’’ [5:38]. And dismayed by his barefaced financial misdemeanour, the move by Kano people to democratically vote him out of power in the 2019 gubernatorial election was thwarted, when Governor Ganduje doubled down on his game and resorted to electoral banditry to steal the peoples mandate to remain in power.
In the Muslim north of Nigeria, the punitive aspect of Sharia concerning offences such as stealing, fornication and consumption of alcohol appears to exempt the ruling political elite, their rich cronies in the upper class of the society and their allies in the religious leadership establishment and only applies to the poor as well weak members of the lower class of the society. Despite the endemic cases of misrule, abuse of power, corruption, mismanagement and outright stealing of public funds in the states of the Muslim north, not one governor has been charged a Sharia court by Hisbah to be tried for corruption related offences because of the retention of the immunity clause. Whereas, the Sharia legal jurisprudence doesn’t provide for immunity against the criminal prosecution of the political leadership of a Muslim state, the governors of the Muslim north have cleverly held on to their privileges of immunity as enshrined in the secular constitution of Nigeria while purportedly administering the ‘’lesser mortals’’ of their states under a religious law that is not constitutional beyond personal and family matters. Little wonder, inside the Kano Animal Farm, the Muslim Sharia law is below Governor Ganduje and only a poor and weak fellow like the convicted Kano singer is used as guinea pigs in the political experimentation of religious laws.
Interestingly, the recent conviction and sentencing to death of the Kano Muslim singer for blasphemy and Governor Ganduje’s posturing as a ‘’ Khadimul Islam’’ who is eager to implement Allah’s commandment has greatly enhanced his popularity in the predominantly Muslim state of Kano. The ice like animosity the people of Kano felt towards him following the exposure of his financial malfeasance on video tape appears to have melted into a warm spring of admiration, love and respect after his firm commitment to sign the execution order of the convicted for blasphemy Kano singer. Religion had always been a useful tool of manipulation of the cosmic emotions of the people in order to hold on to power by Empire builders for hundreds of centuries past. Modern empire builders like Governor Ganduje have perfected the art of holding on to political power for self service through the manipulation of the religious sentiments of their people. Behind the façade of a Muslim Sharia governed Kano state lays the not Islamic acts of the most vicious form of state capture through administrative banditry of the public treasury, that are covered up by a regular administering of an overdose of religious opiates, which sedates the poor masses of the Muslim north to cognitive paralysis.
Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily