Nigeria's Islamic authority has told an 84-year-old man with 86 wives and 170 children that he must whittle his number of spouses down to four or face the death penalty, reports said on Thursday.
The BBC said that Mohammed Bello Abubakar, a former teacher and preacher, could face the death penalty under Sharia law, which was reintroduced to the Muslim-majority Niger State, North-West Nigeria, in 2000.
Nigerian media and the BBC interviewed Abubakar two weeks ago, when he claimed there was no punishment in the Qu'ran for having more than four wives.
However, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) last week blasted Abubakar, who is considered a heretic for his claims of being able to speak directly to Allah.
NSCIA Secretary-General Dr Abdul-Lateef Adegbite told Nigerian newspaper Punch that the NSCIA's President-General and Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, was embarrassed by Abubakar's behaviour.
"The Sultan urged Muslims to ignore Bello Abubakar's brazen disregard of the Sharia, which clearly limits a man to four wives only," he said.Abubakar also told the BBC that Allah had given him to power to control his 86 wives. - Sapa-dpa