An Upper Sharia Court in Tudun Wada, Kaduna, has today banned the sale, staging or any form of distribution of The Phantom Crescent, a play published by controversial civil right activist and poet Shehu Sani.
The suit, with number C/No/USC/TW/ KD356/2007, came as Shehu distributed invitations to stage the play which allegedly lampoons the implementation of Islamic legal practice in Northern Nigeria.
The plaintiff and leader of Members of Concerned Sharia Forum (MCSF), Alhaji Abdullahi Mohammed, in a motion exparte, urged the Upper Sharia Court to issue an order restraining Malam Sani, “himself, servants, agents or privies from selling or in any way circulating the book titled, The Phantom Crescent.”
Alhaji Abdullahi also asked the court to issue “other orders as this honourable court may deem fit in the circumstances to prevent the defendant from circulating the book or staging a play on the practice of Sharia in the Northern states.”
The work of fiction is based on the circumstances surrounding implementation of Shari'ah in an unnamed state by the lead character known as Governor Yerima and social imbalance that followed it. Governor Yerima is portrayed in some scenes selectively approving amputation and stoning to death for Buba Jangebe and Safiya, respectively, while sparing Bala Dan'inna, deputy chairman of the governor's party.
In the end, there is a revolt led by Aminu, leader of the Redemption Front, who tells his excited followers: "They said it is against Sharia to take alcohol, while most of them take it. They said it is against Sharia to patronize prostitutes while most of them do it. They said it is illegal to engage in gambling while most of them do it. They said we cannnot listen to music or dance, while most of them do. Today is the end of their hypocrisy."
Shehu Sani is the controversial author of a 292-page book, The Killing Fields: Religious Violence in Northern Nigeria, published last year by Spectrum Books Limited, Ibadan.
MY IMMEDIATE COMMENT (More later): I can smell trouble. Allah Shi kiyaye!