UPDATE: Nigeria: Polygamist agrees to divorce 82 of his 86 wives, following death threats

Daily Trust
Alhaji Muhammadu Bello Masaba, whose marriage to 86 wives has attracted much controversy, has agreed to divorce 82 of them, an Etsu Nupe Palace Official said.
Alhaji Umar Edota told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Bida that Muhammadu agreed on Saturday night to retain only four of the wives in accordance to the teachings of the Holy Quran.
Edota chairs the five-member committee of Islamic scholars set up by the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, to handle the disengagement.

He said the agreement was reached at a meeting between Muhammadu and the Etsu Nupe at about 8 p.m. in Bida.

At the meeting, he said, Muhammadu informed the Etsu Nupe of the mass divorce and sought for more time to return the former wives to their parents.

Edota said Etsu Nupe accepted Muhammadu’s request for an extension of time to relocate them and set up his (Edota’s) committee to guide Muhammadu.

He said the committee would commence action yesterday to ensure that the affected wives were duly relocated.

He added that Muhammadu was expected to present the written copies of the agreement to the committee.

Edota explained that part of the agreement included a photo-shot with each of the four wives.

NAN recalls that Muhammadu had explained that he married the women on divine instructions, saying that no part of Quran forbids anyone from marrying more than four wives.

When contacted last night, Masaba declined comment. Masaba, who spoke through his personal assistant, Baba Abu, said he would never speak to newsmen, as they had done a lot of damage to him and entire family.

Meanwhile, a Zaria-based scholar, Sheik Salisu Muhammed, has faulted the death sentence passed on Bello Masaba, by an Islamic organisation, for marrying 86 wives.

Muhammed criticised the pronouncement yesterday in an interview with NAN in Abuja.

Jamatu Nasrul Islam (JNI) passed a Fatwa on Masaba two weeks ago to either divorce 82 of his 86 wives within three days or face death penalty as stipulated by the Holy Quran.

The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar, also threatened to banish the embattled cleric if he failed to divorce the 82 wives.

Muhammed, however, condemned the fatwa, saying that it was wrong to pass such sentence because Masaba did not commit apostasy or any offence that could warrant such punishment.

He said though the argument of the embattled cleric over his action might be faulty, the death sentence was also faulty.

“You can only pass such fatwa on Masaba if he denies being a Muslim,” he said.

Muhammed said the ultimatum given to Masaba to divorce the 82 wives should be withdrawn.

He said Masaba should be engaged in a dialogue with a view to making him see the reason he should abide by Islamic injunctions on the marriage institution.

He said the Ulamas could order a Shariah Court to divorce all the 82 wives if Masaba refused to willingly divorce them.

The cleric stated that Masaba should be allowed to take care of all the children, including those from the 82 wives if he so wished.

“It is unislamic to consider any of the children from the 86 wives as an illegal child,’’ he said.

1 September 2008

Source: Daily Trust