Rock the Hisbah

With Nigeria facing many so many social, economic, and political problems, it’s good to know that the authorities in the city of Kano are putting their resources into what’s really important. The Vanguard (via All Africa) reported last month:

CHAIRMAN of Kano State Sharia enforcement agency, Sheikh Yahaya Farouk Chedi has his board have arrested about 2,000 commercial motorcycle riders and confiscated them for various offences committed against the new state road traffic law banning commercial motorcycle riders from carrying female passengers in the state.

…However, the Hisba [=Shariah police] boss explained that having achieved over 90 per cent successes in the entire exercise most of the riders accept the teachigns of Islam and know that they are obeying Allah not hisba men, and noted that cases of clashes have reduced drastically.

The clashes were noted back in December, in the Middle Eastern Times:

Fighting broke out on the frenetic streets of this commercial city when the hisbah began to enforce the state’s ban on women riding on taxi mopeds, a common and speedy means of transportation in Nigerian cities.

Hundreds of hisbah took positions at strategic locations in the city, forcing women passengers to get off mopeds. This angered the moped operators who mobilized and launched attacks on the hisbah.

Armed with clubs and stones, the achaba attacked the green-uniformed hisbah and public tricycles, leaving at least 11 people injured and two dozen tricycles damaged.

But two months later, the achaba apparently now understand that “they are obeying Allah not hisba men”, and have given up fighting back. Funny, that.

The make-up of the Hisbah is described on Global Security:

…The newer and more fundamentalist sects include the Izala and the Shiites. The Izala in particular tend to attract educated young people, both men and women. The Shiites and sometimes the Izala are said to oppose applying shari’a in Nigeria until such time as religious leaders have taken over political leadership of the country. Whereas the hisba includes representatives of all sects, in Kano it tends to be dominated by Izalas and Da’awa.

The Hisbah in Kano, however, is allegedly anti-Shiite. This undated report from Gamji makes a complaint:

Since Malam Ibrahim Shekarau assumed office as the third civilian governor of Kano state on May 29, 2003 Shia followers in this Sunni-dominated city have been under threat of attack from blood thirsty Wahabis that have taken control of machinery of government.

…Having failed to pitch the Sunnis of Kano against their Shia brethren, the government has devised a new tactic of using its 9,000 Hisbah or Sharia enforcers to unleash mayhem on the Shia as officials of the state’s Sharia Commission which controls the Hisbah have started a vigorous campaign against the Shia, stigmatizing them as ‘Maitatsine’, a heretic militant group that caused a bloody unrest in the city in 1982 that claimed thousands of lives and wrought large-scale destruction on the city…It is no coincidence that [Permanent Secretary in the state’s Sharia Commission, Abdullahi] Tanko made this statement a day after Al-Zarqawi, the leader of the terrorists in Iraq from whom the Wahabis take lead in fighting Shias all over the world, declared a war against the Shia in Iraq.

However, a couple of days ago the excesses of the Hisbah led to its being banned by the local chief of police. But now Governor Shekarau has intervened; the Daily Trust (again, via All Africa) reports:

…Governor Shekarau challenged the federal government to take the matter to court.

…Shekarau therefore said as far as Kano state government was concerned the Inspector-General’s announcement is unconstitutional and unacceptable and therefore, the state government will not obey it.

…Daily Trust however learnt that the banning of the Hisbah may not be unconnected with statement made by the former Kano state governor, Alhaji Musa Kwankwaso which compared the Hisbah guards to the dreaded Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) [a Yoruba militia group].

Shekarau has a history of backing Islamism. I’ve previously charted how he was responsible for the return of polio to the country due to Islamist objections to the vaccine.