The Holy Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God. On marriage, the Quran teaches clearly that a man can take up to four wives on condition that he can provide and treat the women equally.
In Quran Chapter 4 verse 3, it states “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice”.
But despite the above verse in the Quran, Muhammadu Bello Abubakar Bida Masaba, practicing Muslim from the town of Bida in Niger State-Nigeria has taken some 97 wives and fathered almost 200 children, and still wanting to marry more.
Masaba’s shocking polygamous act came to the lime light in 2008 when it was discovered by an Islamic youth group- Jama’atu Nasiru-l Islam (JNI) that Masaba had 86 wives and more than 130 children. JNI demanded that Masaba divorce 82 of his wives to meet what the Quran has stipulated.
Masaba’s failure to comply with the orders of the group led to JNI declaring death on Masaba. The police had to intervene in the situation but because much of northern Nigeria is under Sharia (Islamic Law), he was sent to an Islamic court to face prosecution.
But due to the nature of the constitutional arrangement at the Federal level, the Islamic court which is a state court failed to give a definite ruling. Masaba was sent to prison for some few days and in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor he defiantly said “If God permits me, I will marry more than 86 wives. A normal human being could not marry 86 – but I can only by the grace of God. I married 86 women and there is peace in the house, if there is peace, how can this be wrong?”
His wives and children also told Aljazeera English News back in 2008 that Masaba is a good husband and father and that they have all they needed from him.
Afterwards, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the release of Masaba from detention. The trial high court judge attached no condition to his release. The judge ordered the then Inspector General of Police to ensure the protection of Masaba’s fundamental rights to life, liberty and privacy, as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of Nigeria.
Masaba has since returned to his hometown and added more wives. It is said his wives are now around 97, with almost 200 children. Activists in the town still see him defying the laws of God and have held several protests against his action in the town.
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