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Right groups mobilise 86 lawyers for man with 86 wives

Posted by OnlineNigeria.com on 2008/09/19 | Views: 1702 |

Right groups mobilise 86 lawyers for man with 86 wives


IN a humorous and dramatic play on number, a coalition of Nigerian human rights groups has said it has mobilised 86 lawyers to defend the man with 86 wives who is currently being detained for unlawful marriages.

IN a humorous and dramatic play on number, a coalition of Nigerian human rights groups has said it has mobilised 86 lawyers to defend the man with 86 wives who is currently being detained for unlawful marriages.

A human rights activist and playwright Shehu Sani said: "The coalition of 27 human rights groups in the north has mobilised 86 lawyers to defend Bello Masaba against the charges brought against him and the threat of banishment."

Sani who spoke yesterday in an interview said: "It is our determination to protect his fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution and international law."

Sani, the director of Civil Rights Congress, a rights group based in Kaduna is a member of the coalition.

He said the identities of the defence lawyers would not be disclosed for fear of blackmail and intimidation, adding that the coalition "will go to any length to defend Masaba whom we believe is a political prisoner and prisoner of conscience."

Masaba, 84, was whisked away from his home town Bidda in Niger State by police and arraigned before an Upper Sharia court in the state capital Minna "for incendiary contempt of religious laws and contracting unlawful marriage to 86 wives", a court clerk told AFP.

Masaba came to the limelight two months ago when he admitted in the media to having 86 wives and 170 children, insisting that his marriages did not contravene Islam which allows a man to get married to up to four wives.

The news attracted sharp criticism and indignation from all over the north, particularly from Islamic clerics, with the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the Nigerian Muslim umbrella body slamming a fatwa or death sentence on Masaba.

Two weeks ago, Masama agreed to divorce 82 of the wives and keep four, the maximum Islam allows, following a two-day ultimatum issued to him by the influential traditional chief of Bidda to either choose four of the 86 wives or leave the town.

"The choice of 86 lawyers is deliberate. For each wife, Masaba will have a lawyer," Sani said.

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