The Role of the Institution of Hisba in the Sharia Implementing States in Northern Nigeria

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This research concerns the role Hisba is expected to play regarding Sharia implementation in some states of Northern Nigeria and the extent to which the Hisba played the role. Hisba evolved during the time of the Prophet SAW, and it developed during the time of the classical Caliphs and later generations, particularly the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties. During the Umayyads, Hisba became an independent constitutional agency, which continued up to this moment. The Hisba existed alongside the police, the army, and the ombudsman institution (Mazalim) throughout Islamic civilization, including (lately) the Sokoto Caliphate, where the Hisba was not a prominent feature of that government as a Constitutional agency. Sharia was part of Muslim life in Nigeria before British colonization, which gradually eroded Sharia until it was finally restricted to personal law. In 1999, Zamfara State enacted a Law enabling courts to apply Sharia Criminal law, and in 2003 the State established the Hisba to enhance Sharia implementation in the State. Nine other states followed Zamfara, they include Kano and Jigawa. Ten states in Nigeria established Hisba because they thought it was imperative for the proper implementation of Sharia and because it was obvious that Nigeria Police was not willing to implement the provisions of the Sharia Penal Codes. Three of these ten states enacted laws to establish Hisba as Commission, Board and Committee, respectively: Zamfara, Kano and Jigawa. In five of the remaining seven states, the Hisba functions as a sub-committee under the Sharia Commissions of the states. In the last two states, the Hisba operates as a voluntary organization. The laws of Zamfara, Kano and Jigawa detailed the organizational structure of the Hisba agencies, the functions or powers of the Hisba operatives or corps, and their specific roles regarding Sharia implementation. Kano Hisba is the most organized in the country, and it has recorded successes like a reduction in the sale and consumption of liquor, a reduction in prostitution, lost people found and returned home, an increase in the number of public lectures and the impact it had on the morale of people amongst others. Sharia implementation hinges on Hisba. However, the Hisba in the respective states does not have uniform policies, approaches and legislations despite the opportunity for closer cooperation between the Hisba and other law enforcement and regulatory agencies. The Hisba needs continued support from the states, harmonization of laws to reflect Sharia implementation, and vibrant working relations between the Hisba and NDLEA, NAFDAC, etc. Finally, the Hisba should devise ways to build its capacity to deliver well, secure continued support from the government and confidence in the public and, most importantly, serve Sharia the most.


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The Role of the Institution of Hisba in the Sharia Implementing States in Northern Nigeria