In an effort to protect the rights of non-Muslims, Nigerian officials met Monday with the governors of northern states where Islamic criminal law has been implemented despite a constitutional ban.

In a meeting in Abuja, the federal capital, Vice President Atiku Abubakar expressed the government's concerns about the states' inability to keep a promise not to extend Islamic law, or Shari'ah, to non-Muslims, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Monday's meeting, the second of its kind in about a month, was attended by governors of core Shari'ah states, including Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, and Katsina. Nigerian national security adviser Lieutenant General Aliyu Mohammed also attended.

States are permitted to establish Shari'ah courts for Muslims to handle domestic matters but cannot implement Islamic criminal law, which prescribes punishments such as beheading and public flogging. Nearly a dozen states, however, have implemented Islamic criminal law, prompting protests by Christians.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella organization of churches, has complained that its members are regularly harassed by Islamic youths purporting to enforce Shari'ah. According to NAN, the federal government raised this issue at the Monday meeting, noting that such situations could lead to a breakdown of law and order.

A leader in the anti-Shari'ah movement, CAN is comprised of the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, the Evangelical Church of West Africa, the Organization of African Indigenous Churches, and the Christian Council of Churches, which includes the Anglican, Methodist, and Baptist churches.

Recently, Umar Gauduje, the deputy governor of Kano State, supervised a team of Islamic youths that destroyed ...

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