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Zamfara State

Zamfara State is mainly populated by Hausa and Fulani people, with some members of Gwari, Kamuku, Kambari, Dukawa, Bussawa and Zabarma ethnic communities. Others include the Igbo, Yoruba, Kanuri, Nupe and Tiv. Zamfara State is located in the northwestern part of Nigeria with a land area of 38,418sqkm. It borders Niger Republic, Katsina State, Kebbi State and Sokoto State in the north, east, west and northwest respectively. Agriculture is the most important occupation of the people of the state, hence its slogan farming is our pride.

Zamfara State, cleaved out of the larger Sokoto State in 1996 by General Sani Abacha, is considered one of the poorest states in the Nigerian Federation. Despite an estimated annual budget of 50 billion Naira, Zamfara State has few roads, schools, hospitals, or industries. Fewer than 2% of its estimated 3,000,000 residents can access potable water or the State's meager power supply. Over 80% of Zamfara residents rely on small-scale agriculture, though such a livelihood is greatly limited and imperiled by desertification and mismanagement of resources.

During the colonial era and even after independence in 1960, Zamfara was still regarded as semi-autonomous by successive governments. This was why an assistant Divisional Officer (ADO) was stationed at Gusau to take charge of the Sub-Treasury and other Administrative Zonal Offices established in the town. Even the Sokoto Native Authority established Native Authority Branch offices to supervise the administration of the Zone, Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto and First Premier of the defunct Northern Region was deployed to Gusau in 1938 to head and supervise all the Native Administration Branch offices in Gusau.

With the creation of States during the Gowon Administration, Zamfara Kingdom became part of the then North West State and latter Sokoto State before the new state of Zamfara was created in 1996 by the military regime of Late Sani Abacha.

Zamfara State, in the north-west of Nigeria is one of the endemic areas where resistance to the global campaign on polio eradication was very high. The good knowledge, positive attitude and reasonable belief by parents/primary caregivers about paralytic poliomyelitis have not played a prominent role in preventing susceptibility of children in north-west Nigeria to paralytic poliomyelitis. The traditional claim that children with paralytic poliomyelitis have spiritual problem from witches or evil people was rejected by 64.6% of respondents to one survey. Most respondents (77%) strongly agreed that seeking medical help is the best treatment option for children with paralytic poliomyelitis. This is an obvious change from the traditional African belief that witchcraft and ancestral spirits are the causes of paralytic poliomyelitis.

During May-June 2010, a childhood lead poisoning outbreak related to gold ore processing was confirmed in two villages in Zamfara State, Nigeria. During June-September of that year, villages with suspected or confirmed childhood lead poisoning continued to be identified in Zamfara State. During May-June 2010, a childhood lead poisoning outbreak related to gold ore processing was confirmed in two villages in Zamfara State, Nigeria. During June-September of that year, villages with suspected or confirmed childhood lead poisoning continued to be identified in Zamfara State.

The State of Zamfara was the first in the country to adopt Islamic law following Nigeria's 1999 return to democracy. The first Nigerian case of a penalty of amputation occurred a year later, when Buba Jangebe was so punished for theft of a cow. Governor Sani Ahmed Yerima, who came into national prominence in 1999 when he expanded shari'a law from civil to criminal law, turned to his loyal deputy Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi to take over the reins of the state. Yerima, like Aliero, left the state house in 2007 for the Senate, and planned to continue to dictate policy for Zamfara State from Abuja.

The political manipulation of Sharia in Zamfara in 2001 created an environment in which its Muslim citizens, human rights can be arbitrarily violated. It is also useful to compare Sharia as it is being practiced in Zamfara to Islamic criminal jurisdictions elsewhere in the world. From the way these three cases have been handled, it can be conclusively said that defendants facing "hadd" Sharia punishments in Zamfara are afforded fewer of the classical Sharia procedural protections and substantive defenses than their co-religionists in Pakistan, Libya, Iran or even the Sudan. Half-baked and hastily adopted, Zamfara's version of political Sharia is not only bad from the human rights perspective, it is also bad Sharia.

While other states (like Sokoto) have had alkali judges pronounce amputation sentences, these had all been set aside either on formal appeal or by executive review. Zamfara's politicized Sharia punishments continue to be focused on the most defenseless of its citizens, while the well-known misdeeds of Zamfara's political elite--including some recently dismissed Sharia judges--go unpunished. Sharia "Hadd" punishments, such as amputation, are intended to be imposed only in extremely rare cases (Pakistan has not had an amputation since it introduced Sharia law in 1979). In Zamfara, however, they appear to be used to advance purely political interests. Many Muslim Nigerians--including those who support some version of criminal Sharia--are outraged over the brazenly political manipulation of their tradition, and at the lack of either Constitutional or traditional Sharia protections afforded Zamfara,s Muslims.

In Zamfara, Shinkafi's break with Yerima was quite pronounced. In December 2008, Shinkafi, along with all of the 14 Local Government Area Chairmen in Zamfara, decamped to the PDP. According to Zamfara State Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtala Adamu, Shinkafi also has secured the support of 23 of the 24 state assemblymen, although they are unable to officially decamp to the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP). Members of the executive branch are able to decamp at will, but legislators are only allowed to switch parties if INEC officially recognizes competing factions in the national political party.

Clashes between governors and their godfathers are unfortunately very common in Nigeria. In general, the sitting governor eventually can break free of his godfather's influence, but the struggle is often drawn out, costly, and impedes substantive reforms. In the case of Zamfara, Shinkafi's switch to the PDP put him in a strong position to seriously reduce Yerima's influence. Yerima was reportedly still trying to control affairs in the state from his Senate office in Abuja, although Shinkafi enjoys considerable popular support, as well as the support of the Zamfara local governments and the State Assembly, stemming from his open, accessible management of the state.

The October 2018 party primaries in the APC-led Zamfara state were marred by violence and the party leadership has been unable to address the internal grievances. Preparations for the Zamfara state elections in 2019 also continued to be controversial. Nigerias Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declined to accept the APCs gubernatorial candidate, stating that the party submitted his name too late.

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Page last modified: 09-02-2019 18:40:30 ZULU